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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Eagles fall short as the siren sounds

A great team effort by the Burnaby Eagles on Saturday showed just how far the team has come together. With all young Canadians putting in a solid effort all day and with many Aussies finding their natural talents, the boys however found themselves coming up short against the undefeated West Coast Saints.

Coach Wakefield was dissappointed in not getting across the line to grab the four points but could see his side starting to gel together. He is more than positive on where his Eagles are heading as a team and see's the rewards are their for us to grab.


official match report
Undefeated Saints sit high on NWPAFL Ladder

In near perfect football weather the undefeated West Coast Saints fronted against the improving Burnaby Eagles for Saturday’s clash at UBC Sports Fields. The ground was also in perfect condition with the centre circle, square and goal squares mowed low! The growing crowd in attendance were offered all the ingredients necessary for a great afternoon of footy….and for all intent and purpose they were not to be disappointed. It also should be noted that this was perhaps the last ever game of AFL to be played on the UBC Soccer fields as they begin relandscaping for an artificial sports complex!

The Eagles won the toss and while previous game captain Matthew Bell positioned himself high aloft in the bleachers (clearly sitting out the match) to observe the game Eagles player/coach Wakefield led the team from the field. Observers of the game knew immediately that the coaching strategies of both Sheen (WCSAFL) and Wakefield (BAFL) would provide constant entertainment with player positional changes and interchange madness.

The opening bounce witnessed and amazing battle that culminated in the Eagles thrusting the ball forward to big forward Dale Handley who kicked truly for a goal. In less than 1.5 minutes the Eagles had ensured that the Saints back men knew they had to work hard. However it was the Saints midfield that really made sure the game was quickly made in to a more defensive game. Dunbar and Martin nullified the Eagles attacks forward. The game was in the balance throughout the midfield until the 12 minute mark when the Saints started to get some space in the forward line. Jake Benson marking solidly 30 metres out before shanking and missing, quickly followed by Miller scoring a minor. But Benson played an important role up forward marking solidly at the 18 minute mark and scoring a well worked goal. Morgan DeChalain played a great quarter of footy for the Eagles and gathered a bag of possessions as did Clayton Holmes for the Saints. At the 17 minute mark the ball quickly came out from the centre toward the Saints goal and tall forward Gareth “Chip” Bowley kicked truly for the Saints 2nd goal.

First Quarter; SAINTS 2.3.15 EAGLES 1.0.6

With Sam Bonney starting at full back for the second quarter it seemed that Saints coach Sheen was determined to play a truly defensive style of footy. But not to be outdone Eagles coach Wakefield dropped Steve Harper loose across the full back line. The line in the sand was drawn! Eagles won the first tap of the quarter and sent the ball in to attack. Morgan De Chalain started in the centre and yet another tactical move was noted. Young Eric for the Saints had a “purple patch” and gathered the ball before turning sharply and delivering a perfect pass to the leading Bowley. Unfortunately for the Saints Bowley again missed right. The Eagles were being bombarded with Saints kicks forward. Big James Maitland kicked some long bombs forward. First a Dunbar kicked was rushed through then at the 7 minute mark big Saint Matt Sutherland kicked truly with his left foot. In a play more akin to Ice Hockey than footy the ball was bounced gathered by Craig Hopkins and sent forward again to Sutherland who, under pressure missed, all within 25 seconds of play! Again deep in the Saints forward line Adam Cole marked truly before elbowing Dunbar high with Umpire Stratford reversing the decision. Dunbar goaled from a tight angle less than 15 metres out. Clayton Holmes was again the hot possession gatherer for the second consecutive quarter running across the half back line for the Saints. However the quarter was dominated by Dunbar who really showed his football ability by chasing down the gazelle like Eagles’ Peter Taylor running out from full back 45 metres out from goal. Wakefield battled hard throughout the quarter and presented himself in several tight pack situations receiving a high tackle and rewarded with a free wide on the wing. However the Saints governed the play, often pushing the Eagles out wide for forward options. Lachlan Scott snagged a goal on a wonderful snap and the game seemed certain to blow apart in favour of the Saints. However a great series of plays allowed Eagle forward Robin McDonald to get clear in the goal square and take a relatively uncontested mark to goal. Within a minute Eagles’ onballer Frost gathered and kicked truly for the Saints 2nd goal of the quarter!

Second Quarter; SAINTS 5.6.36 EAGLES 3.1.19

The Eagles did not appear rattled by the 17 point deficit at half time and immediately stated their intentions through a wobbling kick and goal for Frost. Wakefield had opportunities to score early in the quarter but missed. Chris Freeman was also gathering kicks for the Eagles but again play was being restricted to the wide boundary and the Eagles struggled to gain direct access to goal. Veteran Gary Cooper was solid throughout the game and showed that football knowledge is just as valuable as pure brute strength! This was truly a defensive quarter with both teams scoring several points. It was late in the quarter that young Saint Andrew Roosdahl kicked truly for the Saints sixth goal – after watching several experienced Saints squander goal scoring opportunities. Colin Hilton and Peter Campion looked like young teenagers as they ricocheted on and off the field. The game truly was now in the balance thanks to poor Saints’ goal shooting and added Eagles’ pressure.

Third Quarter; SAINTS 6.10.46 EAGLES 4.3.23

A quick tap from the centre by the Eagles ruckman resulted in a beautiful kick forward to leading Adam Cole. After marking solidly Cole lined up for goal and uncharacteristically kicked low shaving the hands of the Saints player. Steve Harper continued to gather kicks but was unable to find support across the half forward line. In a testament to footballs growth in BC youngster Robin McDonald out marked his young Saint defender and kicked truly for goal. In less than two minutes later Levi West delivered a perfect pass to McDonald who again kicked truly. The game was clearly a close battle with the Eagles now only 5 points behind. However, as luck would have it a long bomb forward bounced over the Eagles defender into the running arms of Bowley who had been involved in some heated battles and he banged through the goal. In what truly was a few minutes of Eagles best passages of play, year to date, they moved the ball forward again this time to Cole who made absolutely sure to kick a goal. Four goals collectively had been scored in less than three and a half minutes of play! The game settled down a little before traditional back man Steve “HB” Harper ran through the centre, evaded some defenders and kicked a long straight goal. Lachlan Scott for the Saints was switched to defense and managed to settle things down considerably and the momentum again swung in favour of the taller Saints. Jake Benson applied a spectacular tackle on his Eagles opponent and received the first Saints’ free kick (via Umpire Stratford) of the second half . From 35 metres out he kicked and scored. And what was becoming reflective of the entire match the ball was quickly taken out from the centre bounce and given to Craig Hopkins who kicked a beautiful long running goal. With less than a minute to go the Saints had narrowly avoided losing the game.

FINAL SCORE; SAINTS 9.11.65 defeating EAGLES 8.5.53

As the half way point of the season comes to a close the Saints clearly have become the dominant home and away club for 2008 but several questions will now be left for Saints Coach Sheen to ponder. Firstly, can his team survive a more accurate opposition or do the Saints need to focus on their own goal scoring abilities? Can his team last through the grueling traveling portion of the season? What will happen when several of his players attend the International Cup later in the season? While coaches Wakefield and Bell may need to ask – was Bell actually sitting high enough above the play or should they rent a sky reach for the remaining games? Can the Eagles on baller’s sustain many more games of hard hitting? And will the Eagles be able to re master their Half Forward Line in time for the next game? Naturally, these questions are really pretty minor given that both teams played a great game of footy and all players battled hard in reasonably warm conditions. With all teams heading north to Kelowna for the fist battle of 2008 next week against the Calgary boys one could not have asked for a better pre Kelowna match.

Match Summary;

Goal Scorers;

SAINTS; Bowley 2, Benson 2, Dunbar 1, Hopkins 1, Sutherland 1, Scott 1, Roosdahl 1.
EAGLES; McDonald 3, Frost 2, Cole 1, Harper 1, Handley 1

Best Players;

SAINTS (from); Dunbar, Martin, Holmes, Sutherland, Bonney
EAGLES (from); De Chalain, Freeman, West, Cooper, Cole

Brian Horan
Jason Stratford


65 people
1 Australian Shepherd Pup
1 Australin Kelpie Cross
2 Australian Blue Heeler Cross’

Stuart Grills
Aussie rules sports writer ( after the siren )


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