Glenelg v Sturt at Peter Motley Oval, 27 August 2016
Major round contender Sturt led us all day. The Double Blues moved through their mid-field with a dazzling series of handballs, cutting our defences up and looming as big winners. Yet the home side squandered the best of the breeze in the first quarter, by over-use and inaccuracy before goal, yielding them leaders by 17 points despite having 11 scoring shots to 4. Beard and Evans looked dangerous up forward for Sturt. But for sterling work in ruck by Warwick McGinty and great defence by James Sellar, the margin would have been bigger.
The trend continued throughout the second and third quarters, Sturt constantly threatening to break away, the Tigers hanging on grimly. In the second quarter, it was young Nicholson who steadied the ship, getting two valuable early goals to keep us in touch. A three-goal lead to Sturt at the half had us fairly impressed, but not overly optimistic. So off it was to the Sturt watering hole, Jack’s, a bar featuring a chintzy photo of legendary coach Jack Oatey, apparently wearing a beige suit woven by soviet slave-workers in Bolivia. (Also, one can admire the truly horrendous “painting” of Sturt greats, that hangs in the foyer, aptly near the lavatories.)
Your correspondent had that morning cheered himself up by re-visiting the great comeback against Sturt in 1986, and this sustained him while the Blues inched further ahead in the third quarter. They got four and that would have been it, but ex-Blue Ziggy Vitkunas snagged a priceless bag of 3 goals, keeping us in it, by the fingernails. 20 points down, and thoughts of a fairly honourable defeat were in our minds.
But whilst we’re only the 7th best team in the competition, the players this year don’t rattle so much and they are better at fighting to the finish, And in a stirring last term, they kicked 4 goals to one, snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat. We thought the bell tolled too early, but punters on both sides were relieved to not lose, and got their money’s worth on the day. Good luck to Sturt in the finals; they’ll need to stop faffing about with the ball, especially in defence, if they are to advance throughout September.
As for the Tigers? They head into summer with quiet confidence that if nothing is neglected, if hard work on skills and physical development is undertaken, 2017 might be a year for Bay fans to savour.
Glenelg 13.8 (86) Sturt 12.14 (86)