|Luke Anderson and Richard Champion|
Rumours had been flying around a few weeks out about the possible ex-AFL talent the Australian Masters would be bringing along to their hit-out against the Singapore Wombats. Sure, the team would be made up of over-35’s, but given that 36 year old Dustin Fletcher would technically make the cut on that team – and he’s currently holding down full-back in a top 8 AFL side – the ‘Bats went in to battle preparing to give the Masters Kangaroos’ plenty of respect.
Sure enough ex-Brisbane Lions star Richard Champion looking in as good a form as the day he played his last match strode out to Centre Half-Forward. As part of the ‘Bats back six once again, I was quietly rueing the fact that all former league champs, no matter what position they played in the big league, always seemed to settle in to the forward line in their retirement years.
The whistle blew and the game got underway and the first lesson learnt was plain and simple – a master’s team means less speed, less vertical leap and plenty more cunning. The Kangaroos won the first centre clearance and speared a pass in to full-forward which was duly marked by their tall-timber spearhead. Twenty seconds in and the Wombats were already down by a goal. Under the assumption there was a little element of good fortune in the first goal, some worried sideways glances were shot from the ‘Bats bench as the Kangaroos won centre clearance number two. This time the Wombats defence weathered the storm, rebounded and finally got the ball forward of centre. The Singapore forward line which had been of concern early in the year was starting to find its feet and before long the ‘Bats had equalled the score. As the quarter wore on the ‘Bats wrestled the dominance in the midfield back and in doing so opened up a floodgate of goals for the term. After the worrying first few minutes, the Wombats had managed to kick six goals to one in the first term.
Quarter number two started as the first had ended but the Kangaroos were also getting their share of footy this time around. With Richard Champion having to push up the ground to make an impact the ‘Bats defence tightened the clamps giving nothing away, Singapore adding 4 majors for the term and led 10.1 (61) to 1.0 (6) at the main break.
With the focus at training the day before on developing some sound kick-out structures the message from the coach was simple “for f#@k’s sake, rush a behind so we get the chance to practice it!”
The third term had tightened right up and although the Wombats added a few more goals to the board the Kangaroos were finally looking dangerous going forward. The rock-solid Wombat defence finally cracked when a centring kick from defence fell short and landed in the hands of the ‘Roos. The resulting goal their only for the quarter as the Wombats extended their lead to 69 points at the last change. With the result beyond doubt both teams shifted down a gear, the Roos found their way forward adding another two goals to bring their tally for the afternoon to four but the Wombats responded with three of their own to keep the margin ever growing. The final siren brought to a solid day of footy in which the Wombats extended their winning streak to five games taking home the chocolates to the tune of 74 points. Singapore Wombats 16.6 102 defeated the Australian Masters Kangaroos 4.4 28.