Featured image by Barendphotos.com
We now have just the one undefeated side left after 9 rounds and we saw an epic comeback. What more could you want from a week of Gridiron?
Image by Barendphotos.com
Our first 2 games took place on another Wintery summer’s day in Melbourne. This time out at Ranger Field. First up were the Crusaders II v South Eastern Predators. The Preds were coming off a big win the previous week and were looking to continue their good form, and they certainly did that in the trying conditions. Not a great day for passing and running the ball took some extra precautionary measures.
This one looked to be over half way through the first quarter, with the Preds jumping out quickly. The running clock was introduced at the end of the 3rd quarter. The Preds running out winners 44-8
Image by Barendphotos.com
The feature game saw both undefeated sides face each other for the first time since the Vic Bowl. The Crusaders were big winners in that one, and were fancied to do more of the same this time around. This wasn’t the case early on. Both teams making critical mistakes on Offense and not being able to score. A scoreless first half before the Crusaders opened their account early in the 2nd. This was brought back to a 6-6 game on the Kick return by James Cleaver. Yep, another Cleaver reliever (That’s awful).
The Crusaders began to stamp their authority from here, going into the break 14-6 leaders. A bit of ‘argy bargy’ saw the teams walk off the field and coaches getting in each other’s faces. Never a dull moment between these 2 clubs. After the Crusaders jumped to a 34-6 lead, the Rangers found one last chance to score. The Crusaders running out winner 34-12, and looking to continue their 5-season dominance.
Sunday saw rain threatening but having no effect on the games. The field at Hendy St Corio held up extremely well, considering the amount of rain that fell the previous day. Gum boots were not needed this time around.
The undermanned Northern Raiders were hosted by Warriors Gridiron. Despite last week’s results, you got the feeling that this was going to be an interesting matchup. Interesting indeed.
It looked over when the Warriors, and in particular President Luke Jackson, literally ran all over the Raiders Defense. They led 20-0 and looking like the mercy rule would be introduced very early in this game. Enter Jackson Jensen (Play of the day) with a 70yd Touchdown reception. Cutting the lead to 20-6. Luke Jackson sealed the first half with another rushing TD, sending it into half time. Despite being down and low on numbers, the Raiders sideline had belief in themselves to pull this one back…..and pull it back they did.
Some fine-tuned drives and critical forced turnovers saw the Raiders cut the Warriors lead to 26-18. A successful onside kick by the Raiders with 3-minute left, and this game was on. A pass from QB James Phillips to once again, Jackson Jensen, had the Raiders within 2. Unfortunately, not through lack of trying, James Phillips was inches short of the goal line for the 2-point conversion. Replays showing (my footage) that he was either out of bounds, or the ball had in fact come loose right before the goal line. Either way it was an epic effort and an epic game. Easily the game of the year.
Screenshot from video footage by Onside Kick Productions.
Finishing off the round were host club Geelong Buccaneers against fellow blue jersey wearers, Bendigo Dragons. Sanity prevailed here and the Dragons reverted back to their gold jerseys for this one. This game was over before you could even blink an eye. Buccaneers holding a 30-0 lead going into the half. The Bucs pint sized RB doing immense damage while the aerial game was looking as good as ever. A tale of 2 halves here with the Bucs, no doubt giving a lot of backups some game time, running out 50-18 winners.
Despite having just 2 wins from their 7 games. The Dragons will finish off their difficult early schedule having played the top 2 sides twice already. Look for them to make a charge in the new year. As for the Buccaneers. When you see them in person, you wonder why they aren’t as close to the top 2 sides as they should be? Their final 2023 game will be a great spectacle. As they take on the 4th Placed Predators this weekend.