Belconnen Provide Tough Opposition.
NEAFL (Report by Michael Niesen).
A cold wintry day at Dairy Farmers Park did nothing to enhance matches played at NEAFL and AFL Canberra levels between the Queanbeyan Tigers and Belconnen Magpies in all three grades.
The Tigers paid tribute (by wearing black arm bands) to Ken Thompson, father of former Tigers player and current board member Mark Thompson who sadly passed away during the week and also in respect to the father of the Clubs Conditioning Coach (Robbie Thompson) who also passed away recently.
Coming off a pretty tough month of football the Tigers lacked the spark that had seen them sweep many teams aside over the course of the season and with a determined, committed Magpies outfit to contend with, this game was to prove a real arm wrestle.
Tigers had first use of a swirly breeze as they kicked towards the Tigers Club end but it was the Magpies who started the stronger. With a tactic of more men behind the ball and an open forward line they continually outnumbered the Tigers at most contests and ran hard on the counter attack. Scoring was difficult as the tricky conditions caused plenty of errors by foot and the term became a dogged affair with neither side able to play with enough fluency to gain an advantage.
The Magpies kicked the first goal and it took some time for the Tigers to kick into gear. In fact, it took Queanbeyan 23 minutes for their first real clean passage of play.
But moments like this were few and far between as both sides struggled with the conditions.
Queanbeyan Tigers 3-3-21 to Belconnen Magpies 1-3-9
It was much of the same in the 2nd term with neither side able to cope with the blustery conditions. In a quarter that was error riddled it looked like it would come down to the team that capitalised on the others mistakes that would gain the advantage.
Tigers were being well served by Irwin in the ruck who was on top in a great battle with the bigger and stronger Porter.
Quade was providing a good target up forward with his marking being a highlight. Atkinson started where he left off last week and kicked what has now become a trademark goal. Gaining possession inside the centre square he ran to the forward 50 leaving those chasing in his wake before unloading a hard low shot from just inside 50 which went over the goal umpires head. A remarkable kick when many others had tried from a lot closer only to find their kick drop well short.
Queanbeyan Tigers 6-7-43 to Belconnen Magpies 2-5-17
The third quarter began well for the visitors as they made the Tigers pay for some sloppy play and it was their turn to capitalise on Tiger errors. The Magpies were working very hard to get back into the game and they had their tails up as they got to within 15 points.
Now this was a similar game that the Tigers lost to the Magpies some 12 months earlier but this is a different Tiger outfit who responded to the challenge and for all the good work done by the Magpies, they failed to make a real impact on the half time lead as Queanbeyan steadied to take a 21 point lead into the final break.
Special mention must go to young Sam Jensen who kicked a team lifting goal as he took the Magpies on through the middle of the ground and then kicked a long ball that dribbled through the goal. This was a real highlight on a day where moments of inspiration were few and far between.
Queanbeyan Tigers 9-9-63 to Belconnen Magpies 6-5-41
The final term was much of the same as the standard continued as it had been throughout the first 3 quarters. Both sides traded blows and the margin always stayed around the 3-4 goal mark with the Tigers never really seriously challenged by a plucky Magpies outfit.
Strangely enough it was probably Belconnen who would have been the happier of the 2 sides as the siren sounded as they had truly put in a solid days work at the office. As previously mentioned it was the Tigers that had a very difficult month of football playing reigning Premiers Ainslie twice, top of the Eastern Conference Sydney Swans and top of the Northern Conference the Southport Sharks who did enough to take the 4 points and like all good sides they won a game while not being at their best.
Better players for the Tigers were Neil Irwin who worked hard all day in the ruck providing first use to his on ballers and collecting plenty of football around the ground. Skipper Ryan Quade put in a polished display with his work rate and high marking being a highlight, Toby Conroy just kept getting the football, his willingness to run to the right positions and his hunger to keep getting the football resulted in 43 touches, 150 ACTAFL/NEAFL gamer Roy Jaques continues to get better with age. He was rarely beaten and remains a key component of the Tiger defense and Ben King continued to be in and under doing the hard work at the bottom of packs.
Sam Jensen was lively throughout. Kaine Stevens once again provided plenty of spark but particularly in the final term when the Magpies were throwing everything at the Tigers.
The Tigers remain equal competition leaders along with the Sydney Swans and Eastlake and have the bye this weekend.