Preparation:

It was Friday the 7th of March 2014 and Round 6 of the AFL Middle East was upon the Abu Dhabi Falcons, who had been eagerly awaiting a home match. This would be the final round of the season and a confident, third-placed, Falcons team was taking on Qatar’s second-placed Doha Kangaroos. The Falcons were confident coming off a 10 goal win against the Dubai’s Dingoes, and were determined to get some pay back from the 10 goal drubbing they received against their away match against Doha in Round 2.

The Falcons had spent the four weeks between rounds on the track working on fitness and a game plan based on direct footy, building on their past reputation, as a competitive club who are hard to beat in any contest and who doesn’t get beaten at home! The Falcons knew they had improved and were eager to show Doha first hand just how much the club has evolved over the course of this season.

Travelling is hard, and the Falcons plan was to take full advantage of Doha’s early morning flight and capture the first quarter. Winning the first contest had become a mantra on the field following their last match and the Falcons were determined to win it again today. However, a delayed flight for Doha resulted in a delayed start and the Falcons, who had got to the ground an hour before the scheduled start, had to maintain their mental stamina for another 30 minutes until they would see the first bounce.

Quarter 1:

The start to the first quarter was tight and as physical as any other match in the league this year, coupled with the UAE weather, ensuring that it was not only hot in the clinchers.  The Doha team was strong, as always, in the midfield and the football moved quickly from end to end with both backlines working hard to get the football out of the danger zone. A few quick breaks from Doha’s backline gave them some opportunities running forward in the first quarter, but only to be let down by their forward line who could not convert some early goal opportunities. Doha had the jump on the scoreboard and the Falcons were lucky the lead wasn’t larger. Doha found the start to the match that the Falcons had so desperately wanted. The pressure from the Falcons backline was tense and ensured Doha’s goals were well earned. The good news for the Falcons was the straight kicking up forward from Rocket and Damo who both presenting strongly.

Falcons Score 13: 2 goals 1 behind:

Kangaroos Score 28: 4 goals 4 behinds:

Quarter 2:

The Falcons knew a win against such a quality side wasn’t going to come easy and had to lift. Following a motivating talk from the Prez at quarter time, the leadership had to come from the team across the field. It wasn’t a time for individuals; this was time for the Falcons to fly together, to win together. The lads lifted and piled on a massive 7 goals 1 for the quarter against the Kangaroos 3 straight. While the forwards were converting, the drive was coming from an aggressive backline (Nath, BC, Tommy, Jonny and Nick) and included a massive run from Jonny who almost ended up in Dubai. The Falcons were on top in the middle, winning the crucial clearances (Zac, Ali, Dan, Ed and Crazy). This was the quarter that set up the win with the Falcons game plan coming together and their rapid bench rotations were starting to work in the Falcons favor on what was a warm day.

Falcons Score 56: 9 goals 2 behinds

Kangaroos Score 46: 7 goals 4 behinds

Quarter 3:

It was the Premiership Quarter and Doha was now well and truly aware that they had a serious game on their hands. One can only assume that Doha must have had a rousing half-time speech from their coach calling for their players to hit us hard as a courageous Damo was knocked out by a spectacular bump in the first minute.

The Falcons desperately wanted to build on their lead – however down a few players the team structure had to be modified and the players were taking their time to adjust. This wasn’t a quarter of high-flying flashy moves. It was a war, a hard slog across the ground with the Falcons backlines taking most of the fire. But the Falcons held firm and found run from the backlines, running straight lines at the loose footy, to help the midfield win the centre bounces, as Doha continued to try and punch the ball forward form the centre square. This created very few opportunities to get the ball into the forward lines. With each team only managing two goals, but Doha found a way to pull the Falcons lead back to 8 points.

Falcons Score 71: 11 goals 5 behinds:

Kangaroos Score 63: 9 goals 9 behinds:

Quarter 4:

With an 8 point lead in the final quarter of the regular season, the Falcons called on each other to ensure this last home game, would be one to remember. It would be a quarter of determination with both sides kicking goal for goal and exchange physical contest, body to body, willing to put everything on the line, to grasp the final victory. Even the injured Damo and Slittle returned to the field to contribute in what would be one of the most competitive quarters in the league this year.  Slittle typified how much he along with the Falcons wanted this win; with one wing clipped, he managed to tackle the Doha midfielder one handed, dislodging the ball, which resulted in Zac running on to the football to kick one of his four goals for the day – Inspirational!

The Falcons having used the bench wisely were able to run the game out and continued get in front and secure the football. Standout goals in the last quarter by Nate, Crazy Dave, Rocket and especially Ali (who slotted the final goal from a tight angle in the pocket) ensured the Falcons snuck home for a massive 1 point win!

Falcons Score 96: 15 goal 6 behinds:

Kangaroos Score 95: 14 goals 11 behinds:

The Key to the Win:

– Falcons winning contested footy and backing themselves into the contest.
– The lads standing up and taking the game on under pressure.
– The voice and support.
– Successful implementation of the Falcons game plan.
– Determination.

Player Highlights:

Benjamin Coleman – Solid in defense, man on man footy all day, great contested footy.

Tom Roberts – Always leads from the backlines, broke the lines and his long kicking into our forward line was a highlight. Helped out with a run in the midfield.

Jonathan Steingiesser – Held a number of important marks in the backline, especially when we were under pressure in the third quarter. Beat his opponent all day.

Nathan Fullgrabe  – Straight lines out of the backline early found himself in the midfield for a while and up forwards in the last quarter to kick a very important goal.

Zac Moon – Another great performance in the midfield – fought all day for the club and put away four goals.

Lionel Benoit – The big man provided a great forward target all day.

Dan Newton – Spider had to fight hard all day as an option around the ground and to challenge a great ruckman. He did a great job against a more experience player.

Tyron Farrell – Player/Coach on the day. Fought hard both in the forward lines and in the middle and continued to battle with a busted ankle. Set up a couple and should have had a bag himself.

Ali Al Hosani – This man is faster on foot then an Emirati on Sheikh Zayed Road. He used his pace to find space and created opportunities, including kicking 3 great goals from his own boot and the match winner.

Chris Mott –Tank presented up forward all day and made sure our rovers found the footy.

Ed Crooks – Great run and attack on the footy all day and rewarded with a great goal.

Shannon Little – Came into the game with a dodgy wrist and found himself punished at the bottom of the packs. Only to return and ad some fire into the midfield. Tough as Nails!

Nick Yates – Normally a forward but spent the day in the backline. With that in mind he saw more of the ball then he probably would have liked, but took it in his stride and played a key role in holding up the defense.

Damien Arthur – The birthday boy and player’s player. Doesn’t remember much but he dominated the contests up forward and kicked 2 goals. Upon returning from a concussion he continued to put his body on the line for the team.

Rod McDonald – Always finds the goals, with a lazy 3 for the day. Great up forward and good to see him demanding sometime in the midfield.

Dave “Crazy” Else – Worked well in tandem with Spider in the ruck all day in a tough battle. Kicked an all important goal in the last, fast turning into a goal kicking ruckman.

The Scoreboard:

 

Abu Dhabi Falcons

   

Doha Kangaroos

Q1

2

1

13

  Q1

4

4

28

Q2

7

1

56

  Q2

3

0

46

Q3

2

3

71

  Q3

2

5

63

Q4

4

1

96

  Q4

5

2

95

T

15

6

96

 

  T

14

11

95

 

The Goal Scorers:

Number

Player Name

Goals

6

Zac Moon

4

5

Rod McDonald (Rocket)

3

4

Ali Al Hosani

3

13

Damien Arthur (Damo)

2

3

Ed Crooks

1

9

David Else (Crazy)

1

19

Nate Fullgrabe (Nate)

1

 

Post-Match:

A Massive, thank you for Jan “Nuts” for doing the goal umpiring, Ian for taking the photos, Watto for umpiring, Max, WAGS, kids and supporters for coming down, doing the time keeping and running the water and cheering us on, your support has been fantastic all year and very much appreciated by all the players. Thank you.

So after a fantastic win on the field it was off to the Hilton for the post match celebrations to see if we could make it two from two for the day with the all-important boat race. The Falcons have never been short of volunteers to step up for the club when it comes to the boat race and today was no exception.  Due to medical reasons, the player’s player was omitted from his mandatory duties to lead the lads and the team was as such: Dan, Lionel, BC, Zac, Watto. The Lads smashed it winning by over a pint, sensational effort to cap off a great day!

Special thank you to Shannon and Major Club Sponsor GMP for looking after the lads post game, your continual support is very much appreciated! Photos of the game can be seen here.

Report by Nathan Fullgrabe with a little help from Damo and the Prez.

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