Trophy retained in a thriller

10-Apr-2017

The combination of youthful exuberance, determination and two returning favourite sons, got Fitzroy over the line in a rain-soaked thriller a Parkdale on Saturday, retaining the Norm Johnstone Trophy.

It’s been a while since Fitzroy has won in Round 1, but the inexperienced team travelled to Parkdale and took the points in a nail-biting finish giving Nick Mitchell a win in his first game as senior coach; 9.11.65 to 9.8.62.

The three point margin was the result of a game of contrasting halves.

Kicking with a strong wind in the opening quarter, Fitzroy seemed a bit tentative and Parkdale set up very smartly in defence, dropping numbers back and limiting the scoring opportunities. Fitzroy led by just two points at quarter time despite the wind advantage and then saw the home team use it very well in the second quarter, with Parkdale leading by 25 points and looking the stronger team at half time.

After a motivational chat from captain Rory Angiolella, it was a fired-up and focused Fitzroy who returned to the field after half time with some slight positional changes and a determination to go straight up the middle of the ground with the use of the wind.

A six goal to nil third quarter had the Fitzroy fans in raptures, and then came the storm and a fast-finishing Parkdale.

Defending a 17-point lead, Fitzroy had to face down a surging Parkdale side, who seemed to have all the momentum but were hampered by the dreadful conditions. It was really down to determination in the final few minutes with limping, spent players giving everything they had to hold on.

The twin towers at either end of the ground were welcomed back to Fitzroy with open arms – Nathan Jumeau provided a great target up forward and kicked three goals, while Max Ellis down back steadied the defence and showed incredible poise all day, but particularly in the last frantic minutes.

Newly appointed to the leadership group, Jules Turner showed his class and skill again and again in the dry and the wet, and was definitely one of the standouts. Luke Baker, who has put on some muscle over the summer, also ran the ball out of the backline to set up a number of attacking moves.

As always, Rory marshalled the troops in the middle and had his head over the ball. He was threatening when he went forward and Parkdale awarded him Fitzroy’s best player on the day. Rory was greatly assisted by Lewis Pavlich, who was outstanding all day and scored two goals, along with newly promoted Under 19s, Harris Scholz-Mitchell, Ted Clayton and Eddie Lincoln.

There were 10 changes to the team which last played Parkdale in 2016 and most of the debutants are pictured above. Take a good look at these boys as you may be seeing a bit of them this year, along with Aiden Burke and James Butler, who also played up from the Under 19s on Saturday. Pictured are (Front L-R) Will Zaghis, Mark Obushak, Eddie Lincoln, Owen Symington (Back L-R), Ted Clayton, Harris Scholz-Mitchell and Nick Harrison.

The tough note was the serious injury to James Butler on debut.Called up from the Under 19s to quell Parkdale’s Premier B best and fairest player, Charlie Dillon, Butler’s dogged defence drew plenty of praise from the Fitzroy camp, but he was hurt in a clash on the boundary line just before three quarter time. His broken wrist will require surgery and a plate, with an expected stint on the sidelines for the next 10 weeks. Once he’s back you can expect to see plenty more of this talented player, who is the Under 19s captain.

Here is Phil Hill’s write up of the game for the Footy Almanac and not to be outdone, King George III invokes King Lear to illustrate Saturday’s wild and windy conditions and has a special message for James Butler.

Reserves

Earlier in the afternoon, in the heat of the day, the undermanned Fitzroy Reserves hung in the game until three quarter time, but things were a bit one sided in a five-goal final term from Parkdale, who went on to win 14.14.98 to 8.11.59.

It was a strong performance at full forward by Will Pickering, who scored four goals, which would have had the Seniors coaches considering a call up.

Thirds

Setting the tone for the day and the season, it was a mighty impressive start from the Fitzroy Thirds on Saturday at Parkdale, easily accounting for the home side 13.17.95 to 6.7.43.

It was a very even performance up forward, with Steve Petsinis, Simon Heather, Liam Webb and Danny Ly scoring two goals each. Ross Bartel and Jack Dalton played influential games.