USAFL National Championship Win – Division 1 Match Reports

Division 1 – Game 1

New York Magpies beat Nashville with all round team effort

On 9:00am Saturday morning in Louisville, Kentucky, the New York Magpies opened their 2010 Nationals campaign against a very talented Nashville outfit. There was a lot of hype around both teams leading into the tournament and the Magpies knew they needed to start well. They were led from the middle by the on ball unit of Wittmer, Batty and Solly and with hard run and carry from Daniher, Desai and Brennan the Magpies we able to kick away to an early lead. Bowen was proving to be a headache up forward for the Nashville defenders and with Spielman having a hand in everything and the defensive pressure of Caldwell, Torney, Davis and Desai, the Pies went to the main break with a comfortable three goal lead.

Nashville came out breathing fire in the second half and piled on three goals in quick succession to pull within 2 points and challenge the Magpies. However, the Magpies responded with the full back line of Lewis, Georgiou and Mason holding firm and McMaster, Daniher and Gluck lifting their work rate to provide the rebound the Magpies had been used to all year. Smiley and Mantzaris were given the job to nullify the Nashville star ruckman, Luke Stockdale, and they stuck to their task allowing New York’s midfielders to win the stoppages. The Pies continued their rotations with Watts, Murphy and Smith providing fresh legs through the middle. This allowed the Pies to run out the game stronger, and the last 10 minutes saw the two tall targets in the forward line (Keating and Bowen) both scoring goals from strong marks. The smooth mover, Solly, bobbed up for a goal and Greg Smith dobbed one from the boundary to put the finishing touches on the win allowing the Magpies to run out 4 goal winners in what was a high scoring and entertaining game.

Magpies Captain Andy Brennan was both relieved and excited after the game saying “Nashville had a big wrap coming into the tournament and they had a couple of very classy players.  After we got a couple of goals up on them early in the game, we knew they would come back at us fairly hard. It was great for us to overcome such a challenge in the first game of the tournament as it showed the boys that no wins at Nationals come easily.”

Final Score: New York Magpies   8.6.54   def   Nashville Kangaroos   4.1.25

Goals: Bowen 3, Keating, Brennan, Solly, Smith, Wittmer

Best: Wittmer, Batty, Bowen, Daniher, Brennan

Injuries: Nil

Reports: Nil

Division 1 – Game 2

Magpies Snatch Victory with Goal in Dying Seconds

The Magpies started off strongly again with Mantzaris dominating the ruck and giving first use of the ball to the starting midfield unit of Batty, Wittmer, Solly, Murphy and Desai. They supplied plenty of the ball to Bowen, Spielman and Brennan up forward, but the Magpies couldn’t capitalize on their dominance. This said, 2 goals in 5 minutes to the dangerous Guarino gave New York a comfortable lead midway through the first half, providing the perception that it wasn’t who would win, but how by how much New York would take the honors. But to Seattle’s credit they fought back hard and began to out run the Magpies as New York got  complacent. Seattle kicked the last 3 goals of the half and took a 1 goal lead into half time.

The Magpies were playing selfish football with no adherence to their game plan or structures. Coach Ormsby was fuming and delivered a vicious spray to his undisciplined team. The message was loud and clear – stick to the game plan or go home.

Momentum is a big thing in football and Seattle came out of the half with it, kicking another 2 goals to blow the game wide open. New York was in trouble and made a few coaching moves to stem the tide. Daniher, Smith and Watts were moved onto the ball and Mitchell and Torney sent down back.  Keating was brought up to roam across the middle. This seemed to work and after New York had gained an equal footing in general play, they began to set about reeling in the lead. Keating marked anything that came near him and this was the catalyst for a stirring come back. McMaster, Mason, Farrell, Lewis, Gluck, Davis and Thompson all got on top of their opponents across the ground and Captain Brennan also kept New York alive when he goaled from a difficult angle.  There was still hope!  New York trailing by 12 points with 5 minutes to go. Buckingham provided a spark in the ruck and another goal to Bowen saw New York down by only 3 points with moments to go.

The last minute was frantic and the game was played entirely in the Magpies half. Nearly the entire Seattle team was clogging up New York’s forward line. With only seconds left Keating took another park mark and kicked long to the hotspot for one last ditch effort. Cometh the hour, Cometh the Man with Full Back Chris Georgiou taking a huge pack mark 30 meters out directly in front.

The supporters, players and coaching staff were all on edge as the man known as “Ou” cooly slotted the goal to put the Magpies in front.  The siren sounded just seconds after the ball up and the Magpies had pulled off a great comeback.

Man of the hour Chris Georgiou was excited after the game but knew it was a 15 minute lapse in the middle of the game that nearly sent the Magpies home early. He went on to praise the team’s character for digging deep when all looked lost saying, “The boys lifted which was contagious and we knew if we stuck to our game plan we could come back. Kicking the winning goal was an awesome but nerve racking experience.  That is in the past now, however, and we need to focus on the next game to avoid a close finish like that again”.

Final Score: New York Magpies   5.6.36   def   Seattle Grizzlies   5.4.34

Goals: Guarino 2, Bowen, Keating, Spielman, Brennan

Best: Daniher, Keating, Guarino, Brennan, Mitchell

Injuries: Davis (Shoulder)

Reports: Nil

Division 1 – Game 3

Magpies Advance to the Grand Final with a Hard Fought and Disciplined Win

After the narrow escape the day before against Seattle, New York knew they could not afford to let their guard down against the talented Golden Gate Roos. The equation was simple – win and play in the Grand Final, lose and go home. Coach Ormsby saw some of his players looking ahead to a possible grand final and quickly re-focused them with a physical warm up that got the blood pumping.

The game very much started out as a see-sawing arm wrestle. Lewis, Mason and McMaster set the tone down back, with the whole backline including Torney, Farrell, Thompson, Gluck, and Georgiou (Saturday’s hero) dominating the first half.  Their relentless pressure and tough physical efforts were the difference.

Keating and Spielman (dubbed “Wolfman” and playing on one leg due to a hamstring injury in the lead up to the Nationals, who has also become New York’s new cult hero) controlled the air at half forward.  Quick hands opened up the play giving the runners of Guarino, Murphy and Daniher time to pinpoint Bowen time and again as New York left him one-out in the 50m arc. Bowen’s athleticism and marking ability caused Golden Gate plenty of headaches and he kicked New York’s 3 first half goals. New York went into the break leading by a couple of goals and playing team football.

The second half saw the same contested style of football with Golden Gate able to close down the dominance of Batty, Wittmer and Watts in the middle.  Buckingham provided welcome relief to Mantzaris after he had fought hard in the ruck. In order to keep fresh legs and find a spark, Coach Ormsby sent Brennan up the ground which freed up Mitchell and McLaughlin to control half-back. This also released Solly and Desai into the middle to use their run to break the game open… and it did.  Solly sealed the victory with a great goal from the pocket and the Magpies had booked themselves a chance at history.

The only sour point of the game was the hamstring injury to the important Mitchell late in the game. Coach Ormsby calls Mitchell his “Mr Fix it” and was disappointed to lose Mitchell adding that “he is super important to the team because he gives us so much flexibility with his ability to play back, forward or pinch hit through the middle. I don’t think Mitch has been beaten this year, so if he doesn’t come good for the grand final, it will be a massive loss”.

Nine-year veteran and team leader Ojas “Juice” Desai said after the game: “we knew GG was a good team and would be looking to knock us off in order to make the GF.  The coaching staff did a great job of ensuring that we focused on the task at hand. We started the game strong but knew that GG would put up a fight. We were able to lift our level of play after a strong response from GG and won the game by a couple of goals. Finishing that game in good form has given us momentum heading into the GF against Denver.”

Final Score: New York Magpies   4.2.26   def   Golden Gate Roos   2.2.14

Goals: Bowen 3, Solly

Best: Solly, Daniher, Bowen, Guarino, Brennan

Injuries: Mitchell (Hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Division 1 – Grand Final

New York Magpies win the 2010 USAFL National Championship!

With so much on the line and former Magpies all round the world cheering on New York, Coach Ormsby pulled a few late minute line up changes, keeping big man Eddy Buckingham in the team and calling on the big body of Ben Squires.  Dynamic midfielder Walt Lin was also brought in for the Grand Final.  Buckingham’s size is invaluable and Squires had dominated the reserves all weekend.  The coaching panel wanted some increased physical presence in the team. Lin, under an injury cloud, was a risky move.  But given his speed and skill through the middle, if he could overcome the injury, he would add another dimension that Ormsby felt Denver would struggle to cover.

The game got off to a fiery start with temperatures reaching 90°F (32°C).  New York set the tone early with the midfield group of Batty, Wittmer, Solly and Watts being hard at the contest. Mantzaris was handling his counterpart from Denver and the midfield got plenty of possessions early. Ferocious tackling and defensive pressure from New York’s forwards of Guarino, Spielman and Torney kept the ball in the Magpies forward 50 and allowed Bowen to kick the opening goal of the game.

Denver hit back hard, leveling the scores with a goal of their own and getting their running game going. McMaster was given the huge task of containing Denver’s rampaging Centre Half Forward. After he kicked Denver’s first goal, McMaster got right on top and dominated across half-back. Brennan received some heavy treatment and was forced from the field allowing McLaughlin to impact the game with his pace and creativity.

Lin and Murphy, both playing with tenacity on a wing, and along with Desai, provided plenty of supply to our forwards.  Keating presented himself as the funnel for New York, and he continued his tendency to save his best for the big occasions.  Bowen, at Full Forward, kicked New York’s second goal with a magnificent snap from the boundary, putting the team ahead by that margin leading into the break.  Tempers flared on the half time siren after some heavy tackles, however both teams regained their composure heading to their respective huddles.

In the second half New York was forced to move Doug Lewis forward, as Daniher was being tagged across half back. Lewis played like a man possessed and epitomized New York’s never give up attitude.  Daniher, who along with Solly and Wittmer, ran their opponents into the ground and were everywhere, collected possessions at will.  Combining with the physical presence of Batty and Watts through the middle, we saw New York gain ascendancy in general play. This allowed Bowen to kick his third and give New York a little bit of breathing space leading into the last 10 minutes of the game.

From here, New York did not have it all their own way. Denver looked dangerous going forward and are a champion team. New York’s backs of Farrell and Gluck stood tall and Georgiou repelled nearly every Denver forward entry.

Mason moved into the ruck in the last five minutes where he continued his strong bollocking work. This ensured the Magpies remained disciplined and stuck to their game plan, continuing their strong defensive pressure, and hard running all across the ground.  With their first National Title within reach, fittingly, New York’s leading goal kicker and player of the tournament, Andy Bowen, sealed the win by kicking the final goal only moments before the final siren.

Winner of the Grand Final’s MVP was Joel Keating who thought the game “was won by our back line and midfield. They were relentless and never allowed the Bulldogs to gain momentum. In particular their effort around the stoppages and their crumbing and tackling with the quick release made it easy for us forwards to capitalize. Overall it was an amazing team effort”

Playing Assistant Coach Shane Batty felt “the team as a whole didn’t know what to expect from the 6-time USAFL Premiership winners. To overcome this it was the team leaders who really pushed the importance of playing at 100% for the entire grand final. Denver are known amongst the league as very hard hitting which can sometimes throw a team off their game.  But to our credit we have an amazing group of blokes and not one individual gave less than 100%”.

The 2010 National Title has been 13 years in the making and is dedicated to not only those who pulled on the New York Magpies jumper in this particular match, but to all those who have ever pulled on the jumper or been associated with the club in some form.

Final Score: New York Magpies   4.4.28   def   Denver Bulldogs   1.1.7

Goals: Bowen 4

Best: Solly, Keating, McMaster, Batty, Daniher

Injuries: Nil

Reports: Nil

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2 Responses to USAFL National Championship Win – Division 1 Match Reports

  1. greg kerr October 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    Its a dream come true, the mighty collingwood magpies and the even mightier New York Pies have bought home the chocolates!
    Congrats to “Ranga” Andy Brennan, the whole of Ararat is celebrating, you will be the new king at next years golden gateway festival
    Go Piezzzz!

  2. Daniel O'Donoghue November 4, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Well done boys! Hope to be back in the black & white one day soon.