It was another warm Friday afternoon, the venue was Zayed Sports City, and the Abu Dhabi Falcons were taking on Muscat Magpies in Rd 3 of the Middle East AFL Footy League. Despite a few unavailability’s the Falcons maintained a squad full of depth and were confident heading into the fixture and at 0-2 it was fair to say they were desperate to get a W on the board.
The Falcons hit Muscat hard right from the get-go with Tommy setting the tone in the 1st minute of the encounter by leaving his back flank post, charging forward, receiving the pill and finishing beautifully on the run from the 35m arc. The rest of the Falcons followed suit and, despite being a little wasteful in front of goal, soon had the opening 4 majors of the match. Muscat rallied late in the quarter to kick two straight goals to help keep the margin to a manageable 22 pts.
QTR TIME SCORE
AD Falcons 5.4.34
Muscat Magpies 2.0.12
1st quarter highlights:
Ed’s constant pressure in the front half, notably running down an opponent inside the Falcons F35m and winning a holding the ball free kick, which he converted.
Ruckmen Crazy Dave & The Prez combining well with midfielders Zac, Slits, and Gerry Tracey to control the centre clearances giving the forward first opportunity.
New recruit “Rugby Mat” tackling like a man possessed!
The 2nd quarter saw Muscat shake off their travel fatigue, pick up their intensity all over the pitch and quickly erode the quarter time deficit. Muscat piled on 4 unanswered goals and looked consistently dangerous moving the ball through the midfield – showing the kind of form that saw them defeat the Dubai Dingoes earlier in the season. The Falcons stemmed the flow and got back into their stride through some individual brilliance from Rod ‘Rocket’ Mcdonald who was proving difficult to handle inside the F35m arc and Zac running down a Muscat defender to slam through 3 quick goals in succession and have the Falcons finishing the first half with momentum to maintain a 14pt advantage.
HALF TIME SCORE
AD Falcons 9.5.59
Muscat Magpies 7.3.45
2nd qtr highlights:
Rocket’s use of a banana kick instead of the left boot to slot a ripper from 25m under heavy pressure to break the run of 4 straight Muscat goals.
Big bad full back Jonny Hammer taking a risk and leaving his opponent to attack the ball, taking it clean as whistle on the half volley and smashing it long up the wing. Setting the standard as always.
In the sheds at half time the Falcons were challenged to stamp their authority on the game in the first 5 mins of the Premiership Quarter… and that’s exactly what they did. Through hard midfield running, back line rebounding and regular rotations, the Falcons were able to supply Rocket, Damo, Eds, Nick and Shags with plenty of opportunity to cause the Muscat defenders misery. When both Zac and The Prez ran hard from the midfield into the F35m to mark courageously and convert it was 4 straight majors to the Falcons. As legs tired in the warm weather, Muscat continued to work hard and pounced to claim a couple late goals to get back within 4 goals at the final break.
3/4 TIME SCORE
AD Falcons 13.5.83
Muscat Magpies 9.5.59
3rd qtr highlights
Zac’s “Jonathan Bown” run with the flight of the ball and courageous mark and goal was one of the highlights of the day let alone the 3rd quarter.
Fatigue & tired legs are always a factor in the warm conditions of Middle East footy and it was asked of the Falcons boys to dig deep and fight off the never-say-die Magpies. Muscat had gained the momentum late in the 3rd and were still looking confident in overrunning the Falcons. Rocket had been dominant for 3 quarters in the F35m and this continued in the 4th quarter with him consistently losing his man to get onto the end of long delivery from the Falcons midfielders and backs. Falcons ran hard in the first half of the last quarter with Zac, Slits and Gerry Tracey utilising the space that had become the Falcons best friend and backs BC, Nath, Jonny, Rugby Mat and Tommy continuing to run off their men to create options. Falcons poured on 4 unanswered goals to take the margin out to an unassailable 48 pts. Muscat fought hard to the end and booted the final 3 goals of the game to bring the final margin back to a respectable 31 pts.
AD Falcons 17.7.109
Muscat Magpies 12.6.78
4th qtr highlights
The laconic yet agile Damo bursting out from FF, gathering the pill just inside the 35m arc, turning his man and snapping beautifully over the left shoulder from 30m to kick an absolute belter!! Although he almost surpassed this not longer after when he gathered the ball between his legs, hoolahooped it around onto his back, ran for a while under heavy pressure, attempted to grab it over the shoulder and kick for goal but dropped the ball and was crunched!! Ah well, 10 out of 10 for effort…..and everyone got a little giggle out of it.
The game was labelled a must-win for the Falcons, not only because it was needed in order to remain in contention in the league, but more so as reward for a lot of hard work throughout the preseason and opening couple months of the season where the guys continued to train hard and put in highly competitive efforts against Doha Kangaroos and Dubai Dragons.
A standout up forward, Rocket was sensational with 8 goals and proved why he is so valuable to the team. That being said, this was really was a complete team performance. Tommy summed it up perfectly after the game:
“When The Prez asked me about Best On Ground it took a while to come up with my answer, because I thought it was a real even spread and a team effort. Rocket put on a clinic up forward but without the repeated efforts of everyone to get the ball up there he would have been doing a Nick Riewoldt impersonation and chasing kicks on the wing, instead of getting the job done up forward and finishing off all the hard work. It was great to see and everyone should feel pretty good about it.”
It was certainly pleasing that the hard work at training, continual improvement and non-negotiatiables committed to by the team resulted in a W for the Falcons!
Special mentions must go to two guys who put their hands up to answer an SOS and play for the Falcons – Rugby Mat (first game of AFL footy EVER!) who looked at home in a Falcons jumper and the return of Falcons 2010/11 premiership player Gerry Tracey after a 2 yr hiatus. Both had stellar performances in pivotal roles and contributed greatly to the result.
After the game it was off to our new sponsor’s establishment The Hilton Pool Bar for plenty of socialising between the teams and banter on individual performances/cameo’s/goals/clangers.
On the back of a top result on the pitch the Falcons were looking to double up off the pitch in the after-match BOAT RACE ritual!! Muscat’s line-up of big units and trained gullets was far too strong for the Falcons team of 5 that included Nath “i drank too much the night before” Fullgrabe and Shannon “never ever to compete in another boat race….ever!” Crockett, and romped home by over 2 pints to take some solace from the day for the journey back that night.
Overall a very positive day for The Falcons, all eyes and concentration are now on The Dubai Dragons on the 17 Jan.