What a welcome back to the AGL for Victoria! After missing the last few AGL competitions, the Victorian Eagles came into their clash with the South Australian Sharks with a lot of ground to make up. The Eagles bolstered their squad with many players from the 2017 Vic Bowl Champions Western Crusaders, while including some old gold in the form of Croydon Rangers (and good friend to Gridiron Down Under) QB Jamie Stafford.

In the opening quarter of play, and under some typical Victorian weather (this coming from a Sydneysider!), the Eagles held the Sharks to a 3 and out in their first series and scored immediately, scoring on their first offensive possession through a 7-yard run by Tyson Garnham behind a huge offensive line; as someone dubbed them, the Big V. From here, the Eagles put the foot on the gas and never let off. Sharks QB Michael Tedmanson did well to lead his O to a few first downs, passing the ball well. However, with the intense rain coming down at the game, some handling errors were bound to occur; as the Sharks fumbled and recovered the ball all the way back on their 1-yard line. The Eagles smelled blood and came hard on the following down, putting pressure on the Sharks and forcing an error in the Sharks end zone and picking up the third safety that day for the AGL.

The Eagles can credit a lot of the yards they gained in the first quarter to their star RB Luke Jackson, who pounded the turf and punished the Sharks D in the wet weather. By the end of the first quarter it was beginning to look like a blowout, as the Eagles were up 26-0, with a TD to Tyson Garnham and 2 TDs to David Iwunze. One of our men on the ground in Victoria said it correctly, the Sharks were missing too many tackles and this was the reason they were down by 26.

Things didn’t change in the second quarter, with the Eagles continually forcing the Sharks to punt the ball, sometimes from within their own redzone. Their Special Teams worked extremely well to put their offense into great scoring positions, particularly off punt returns. By the end of the second quarter, the Eagles were up by 40 points without a reply from the Sharks, with TD’s going to QB Brad Ferguson and RB Luke Jackson (my bid for overall AGL MVP).

After the halftime break, the Sharks were hoping to come out and get some points on the board and rectify major errors they made in the first half. After a 50-yard return by Andrew Yeung set up the Eagles on the SA 35-yard line, the Eagles looked again to their talisman RB Luke Jackson, who picked up his 4th TD of the game. This ended up being the final scoring play of the game, as the Eagles continued to pound the turf against the Sharks and work down their D Line.

This ended a disappointing opening showing for the Sharks, and HC Drew Akin will go back to the drawing board and look to turn this result around this upcoming weekend. The Sharks will host the NSW Wolfpack, who themselves will be looking for their first AGL win of the campaign. There’s also a score to be settled by the Wolfpack, as the Sharks embarrassed us in front of our home crowd in the last tournament, so there may be some sense of payback in the air. Meanwhile the Eagles will travel north to face the defending champion QLD Sun Devils. This one will be a battle of the heavyweights, and a potential game of the tournament so definitely don’t miss out on that one.

As always, stick with us here on Gridiron Down Under as we’ll bring you coverage of the results of all the games, previews and links to the livestream of each match.

AGL Round 1: VIC vs. SA Review

Daniel Crighton

LB for the UTS Gators. AKA Choc.

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