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It felt like a win


Having been released from the gorilla enclosure at the Melbourne Zoo, I headed east to the Brunswick Street Oval for the Fitzroy clash against Old Xavierians. Cousin Garry, who’s brought you the game coverage so eloquently over the last couple of weeks, is away at his jungle retreat down the coast.

He has the intuitive primate quality that speaks with truth and flair, hitting you between the eyes when required as well.

The Roys had three changes: experienced trio Clayton, Minahan and Wright coming in for Holmes, Lester and Harward.

Beautiful autumnal conditions drew a big crowd to BSO, one of whom was AFL boss Andrew Dillon, flirting with his left shoe out on the ground post lunch. You never know, kicking left foot might be banned soon.

Can the Roys challenge one of Premier Division’s leading lights in Xavs, maintain consistency, endeavour and discipline for a full game? That’s the big question because for periods we have been in our previous two encounters.

The Roys were competitive early, but Xavs converted the first couple to the park end, where I’m told a footbridge previously traversed a railway line. We needed to take our chances, but didn’t, and 34–4 was not an attractive score line at the first break.

Endeavour without method I reckon.

Coach Ronaldson stressed that the players needed to be quicker to react, and had to increase the pressure level. I think the modern age calls that the pressure gauge, it comes with numbers on a meter, and I don’t know for sure how the numbers are calculated.

Xavs kicked the opener of the second after five minutes of to and fro. Then Turner worked into space and deliciously found Harvey in the square. He was illegally drop tackled, and we had our first major on the board.

Meanwhile, Ellis was defending stoutly; baby making has not diminished his abilities.

The Roys were holding the fort for 24 minutes, a goal apiece. Then of course as I wrote it, the opposition kicked a couple, and it was 58–10 at half time, not looking pretty. Unlike the bowling club which was looking pretty good for a couple of settlers at the break.

I sensed an emboldened spirit at the commencement of the second half. Vlassopoulos was brick walling in defence, we exchanged goals, then Laidlaw kicked truly. Spirit personified. Davie was then unfairly dumped after disposal and Captain Jack Hart duly converted.

Ramshaw is a pure delight on the wing, he found Kewell forward, who threaded a goal.

A gift mark to Xavs temporarily halted the momentum until Harvey marked at half forward and kicked one from beyond the arc.

The problem was that the black and reds scored a couple in between regular Fitzroy assaults. 82–41 at the final change, and the coach reiterated the improvement in ball use, pressure and work rate.

The instruction was to “Do It Again”, quoting that great Beach Boys classic.

Dane Harvey is a talent. He goaled again at the start of the last, and a great Hart tackle led to another major. Despite a goal or two from Xavs, Fitzroy had taken over the game. Seakins, Ellis, Vlassopoulos, Lowrie and Ligris were rock like in defence.

Another turnover tackle by Turner created a goal for Faubel. Then Laidlaw found himself unchained, cleverly finding Harvey for another.

All the while, Minahan was robust and creative in midfield, and McKay the quality ruck he is. Harvey kicked another from the arc, player of the match I reckon.

It was 90–73 at the final siren.

A number of players and supporters remarked to me after the game that “it felt like a win”. We need to convert feeling into reality, but it’s coming.

Next week, let’s take the ‘Good Vibrations’ down Brighton way.

Guy Gorilla

Images courtesy Phyllis Quealy

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