Photo Credit: Steve Galloway
Tiger Bowl weekend kicked off with the Tasmanian under 19s in Tiger Cub Bowl II, featuring the combined unit from the South and the North, Launceston Lions. This was also the first 11 aside match of the season – and all reports from spectators was that it was a high standard, with much to look forward to in the future from these budding stars.
The final score saw the South 28-0 victors, but in no way did it reflect the closeness of the two sides. Ultimately it was maybe that the North could not click on the day offensively, as well as a tough South Defensive Line, lead by Instinct Athletic Defensive MVP Jed Wallis, who shut down danger man QB Nick Glanville, for the first time all year.
For the North, James Hardy and Hamish Armstrong battled hard all day – Armstrong finding himself open all day long at WR, as well as some key plays on defense. Wes Pearce continued his play from throughout the season, and the finale was no different.
Whilst for the victors, the south rotated QBs Teege Westbury (1 TD) and Dorian Williams (2 TDs) to great effect, constantly making the defense adjust. The offense used some great blocking from Booth, Wallis, Kenner, Parfitt, Arnold, Douglas and Chaperon-Tucker team to allow offensive Instinct Athletic MVP Harrison Lacey to lead the running game effectively for over 100 yards on the day.
On defense, as well as Wallis at DE, Tiger Cub Bowl MVP Enzo Balducci did it all (who earned the honors for some big runs at FB well), with constant pressure on the backfield, and not allowing anything up the middle. DB George Tarbath earned his first INT of the year in the big game, jumping in front of a pass that would have been bound for a TD, and Lacey also managed his third safety in three games.
Overall a very high standard game, which bodes well for their fortunes as the lads now go into camp for the U19 AGL.
Congratulations to the South for taking out the title, and we also have an exciting Launceston unit to look forward to seeing in action next year. Hard work all around has made this competition an exciting brand to watch – Coaches Jackson, Chamberlain, Hennessey, Nunn, Fletcher and Barracu should all be commended for their hard work – the players are very thankful for you!
Juniors: South 28, North 0
- Williams – 2 Rushing TD
- Westbury – 1 Rushing TD
- Balducci – 1 Rushing TD
- Lacey – Safety
Overall MVP: Enzo Balducci
Team Instinct Athletic MVP – South: Wallis, Lacey
Team Instinct Athletic MVP – North: Hardy, Armstrong
In the main event, we saw the Knights hosting their first Tiger Bowl, and for the third time in three years they were taking on the Launceston Gorillas.
The game started with a bang, as previous league MVP Taz Little showed his versatility, slicing through the Knights kickoff unit for a game-opening KR TD. From there, the game was a defensive struggle for the next 20 or so minutes, before the Gorillas charged forward towards the end of the half, with QB Dornauf connecting over the middle with ever-reliable hard-nut TE Nick Boxhall for a 9yard TD to take the score to 12-0, and looking like they were having it all their own way.
However, reigning Offensive MVP, Josh Havea, had other ideas on the kick return; not wasting time taking it the distance, and with a two point conversion the game was brought to 12-8 at half time.
The third quarter saw the ball move up and down the field effectively from both teams however, their defensives stood tall, shutting each other out when it counted, especially staunch deep in each other’s Red Zones. The Gorillas relied heavily on their veterans such as Pete Win & Rohan Nunn, while Kaileb Barracu had one pick and close to making several other plays whilst Fabrice Dochez was everywhere. Likewise the Knights dominant with their the twin towers, James Holman and Anthony Lean, along with the evergreen Adam Weeding and team captain Tom Shepperd
In the final stanza, with about 9 minutes to go, the Gorillas looked like extending their lead before Havea jumped a Dornauf pass and returned it 40 yards, before punching it in for a TD! The failed conversion took the score to 14-12, and within reach of a Gorillas comeback.
The Gorillas had two great chances at scoring the winner. The first ended in a heads-up red zone strip from DB Sean Chamberlain on RB Jamie Dash followed by a long return from SS Shepperd.
The second opportunity was the decider. With less than a minute to go the Gorillas were again in the red zone. Dornauf rolled out to the left with seemingly a paddock to run, however without options decided to turn back in to traffic, throwing up a jump ball towards the endzone into tight coverage by the Knights DB’s; veteran Luke Crowley came up with the pick after the ball was batted in the air to end the Gorillas chances and to bring a tightly contested tussle to an end, finally allowing the crowd watching on to catch their collective breath.
With the final score at 14-12, we see the Knights win their second Tiger Bowl. Game MVP for a dominate performance was defensive stalwart Anthony Lean, who had over 20 tackles and countless QB pressures.
This game will undoubtedly go down as the toughest and most exciting Tiger Bowl for a long while. Congratulations are to be had for both teams however, it was the Knights who come out victorious in a tightly contested game.
Story Credit: Chris Jackson, Gridiron Tasmania