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Match Report: Warriors Vs Tigers (23-Feb-2013)

Match ReportsWritten by Michael D'Oliveiro

After a heady 2012, a few would have thought the mighty Warriors would have had a hangover to recover from. From the opening bounce, it might have seemed the case. The Thailand Tigers showed their renowned spirit and vigour in midfield, getting to the ball first on several occasions. After Jason Flanagan narrowly missed his early set shot, the Thais forced a turnover and the free kick against Mitch Booker brought a fine running goal from the Tigers. This seemed to sting the Warriors into action and Booker himself, who marked and kicked a long-range effort that was smartly shepherded through. Full-forward Marcus Coombes followed that up with a fine long bomb before a spell of aerial ping-pong began. The Thais forwards were desperate in their attacks but Jason Mosel took a courageous mark and teamed up well with Corey in half-back. The latter sprinted gazelle-like to land another bomb and split the sticks. Midfielders Barry Hall, Stuart Job and Clint provided more drive and the Warriors would have scored more if it wasn’t the effort of a certain bald Thai back pocket who kept clearing the pill with his driving right-footers. Veteran Paul McCalman put in a sterling effort in half-back again while James Drummond and Mosel combined superbly like a just-married couple. Flanagan, Coombes and Adam Kaminsky added the minor points as the Warriors went into the early break ahead.

Warriors 3.1.19 to Tigers 1.0.6 and in front by 13 points.

While the Thais were continuing to impress with their rapid midfield link-ups the Warriors defence held resolute thanks to some brave marking from Kaminsky and assistance from the on-ballers. Again, the Thais stole a goal against the run of play. McCalman, playing one of his best matches of late, teamed up well with Mosel and Corey again to repel further assaults. A great build-up saw Nathan Buma thump a kick from outside fifty that sailed way above Flanagan’s head as he applauded it through. Moments later, thanks to another build-up from Corey, Flanagan himself snapped from the pocket at a tight angle for his first. With Corey again running off half-back with ease, a pass to Buma found Big Pete on a lead that Tony Lockett would have approved. A fine convert ensued and it seemed the expatriates from the Land of Smiles were a little shell-shocked until a late scramble saw them score one off the ground. The Warriors piled on the pressure but this only yielded two more behinds while the Thais were rewarded with a late free for holding and managed another goal. Lucky, they were.

Warriors 7.1.43 to Tigers 4.2.26 and increase their lead to 17 points.

Once again, the Thais seemed to start the quarter better than the Warriors and closed the gap with two early goals, narrowing the latter’s lead to less than a kick. Suddenly, we had a game on our hands! A long-range effort from Booker was dropped by Coombes in the goal-square and it was a surprise to see lumbering Christopher Thorpe swoop in Stephen Milne-like and boot the crumbs on the half-volley for a goal. While the Thais could only muster a point in response, Flanagan replied with his own goal minutes later to really get the crowd going. Job showed some courageous ball-getting to help force a turnover that led to another long-bomb to Coombes, who took two-bites of the cherry to earn a shot from 20 metres out. He kicked truly. Aided by one more effort, even the nippy Adrian Keet had a close-range opportunity deep in the pocket but sprayed his kick wide.

Warriors 10.1.61 to Tigers 6.3.39 and stretch the lead to 22 points.

The final quarter started as the clouds hinted of more gloom for Thailand. If it wasn’t for their stout defending and the umpire, the Warriors would have been up for another goal. Coombes took a classic full-forward’s mark from behind but was adjudged to have committed a classic ‘in-the-back’ foul by the same token. But each time the Tigers bounded forward, they ran into a wall named Corey, Kaminsky, Hall and Drummond. Other times, it was the perfect spoiling of Joshua Welsh or Jason Winter. Even ol’ McCalman seemed to have the ball on a string against a fading Thai forward line. The Warriors’ strength in numbers on the bench was playing its crucial part. Finally, a breakthrough was sorted as Buma crumbed a spill from a pack and slammed his goal inches from the goal-line. A few minutes later and Coombes’ perfect lead saw him mark and split the sticks from a tight angle. The Malaysian home crowd was delirious as they smelled victory. At the end, the Thais earned one little reprieve when Keety committed the clanger of the short season thus far. Standing on his defensive goal-line, a seemingly safe ball-hugger became a rubbery, chesty bounce. This delighted his Jesus-lookalike opponent who discovered that miracles actually do occur and tucked the pill well and truly through the goals.

The fact is, the Malaysians stretched their lead at the end of each break and held a command of the game that never felt in danger of being overtaken. ‘Leaders in every part of the ground’ is how captain Flanagan described the team before kick-off. And that is certainly how the Warriors behaved to top the Asian standings over the weekend.

Warriors 12.2.74 to Tigers 7.4.46 and runway winners by 28 points.


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