Wildcats tame Dingos to extend streak to 3
Aug 18, 2009
After a nail biting 3 point come from behind victory over the Central Blues on the road last weekend (60 to 57), the (7-3) Hamilton Wildcats headed home to host the dangerous (8-2) "Downtown" Dingos to kick-off their 3rd Annual "Family & Sponsor's Day" at Mohawk Sports Park. Both Clubs have made major strides forward this season through solid off-season recruiting, as well as upgrading their respect Executives which has led to success both on and off the oval. Over the years, the Dingos have definitely had the 'Cats number; but in recent seasons the rivalry has started to even-out with Hamilton winning their last match-up in '08 by 94 points (127 to 33). The importance of this game was evident even hours before the opening bounce as the visitors had many of their star players in tow; including 2-time OAFL Best & Fairest Award winner Craig Stewart, talented player/coach Mick McFarlane, Northwind stand-outs Yoni, "Danny Mac" and full forward "B.B.B." ('Big Bad Butch', aka Chris Buczkowski). Hamilton boasted a full 24-man roster (actually having to sit 3 players due to an excess in numbers) for the only match-up between these 2 Clubs in '09, a battle between 3rd & 4th place on the league ladder and one that definitely seemed deserving of the OAFL "Match of the Round" label.
As the mercury in the sideline thermometer started to boil, both teams took to the oval in what looked to be a very hot affair with the respective coaches prepping their fully stocked interchange for a very busy afternoon. Despite Hamilton winning the opening bounce, the Dingos took control early on and kicked long into their forward line thus leading to an early goal while the Wildcats seemed to be more concerned with the copious amounts of alcohol chilling in the shade and shoulder of beef slow-cooking on the spit. Slow 1st quarter starts at home seemed to be the trademark of the '09 Wildcats, and falling behind to the talented Dingos side was not what Hamilton had planned with 200+ cheering on the home side from the boundary. This was the time of year where every single game mattered and both Clubs were looking to build their momentum as the Finals approached, not take a step backwards. At the end of the first quarter, the visitors took a well earned 13 point lead into the break (3.2.20 to 1.1.7), leaving Hamilton searching for answers with their on-field match-ups and sending Coach Main back to the drawing board.
As the Wildcats took the to oval to start the 2nd frame, one word echoed in the heads of all Hamilton players…ACOUNTABILITY! Straight from the opening bounce, the 'Cats began to claw back into the match with great shepherds to create space for their rovers, battling hard for the loose footy and kicking long to the hot spot; thus shrinking the slim 1st quarter lead built by the "Wild Dogs" in the initial 20mins. 'Rookie of the Year' candidate, Matt "Windy" Witt, battled hard for the footy on the wing and the visitors seemed to have no answer to his speed and courage for the Sherrin all afternoon. After an a handful of impressive efforts in recent weeks, Jeremy "Jezza" Hillis further cemented his position up forward with several strong marks under pressure and helped to close the gap even further with a great goal before the half. Despite a solid team effort all over the ground from the hometown boys, the Dingos still led, but Hamilton had pulled within 3 points trailing by a score of 3.3.21 to 3.6.24 with half the game now in the books. Wildcat Full Forward Michael "Vissa" Visser (3 goals) worked extremely hard in the first 40minutes, being double & triple teamed for much of the first half due to the absence of offensive counter part Daniel "Lost in the woods with my mother-in-law" Crouch, and definitely earned a great deal of praise for his efforts on the day. The Hamilton backline also tightened after a lazy opening quarter; filling the lanes to cut off Dingos leads, marking well in front of the much bigger Toronto targets and punching to the ground when caught behind.
As the third quarter commenced, it was obvious the Dingos were a spent force. With no run to speak of from the visitors point of view the younger Wildcat side pushed ahead with plenty of spring in their step by playing a more direct brand of footy. The consistent pressure by the likes of Aitken, Johns and Nolan through the mid-field and into the Wildcats' forward 50, definitely seemed to rattle the normally reserved Dingos. After several missed offensive chances in the Hamilton zone, the Dingos backline then had a clearing attempt smothered by veteran Wildcat Jeff `GWG` Fish, who then alertly picked-up the bouncing footy and drove home the winning goal from 35 metres out with less than 2 minutes left to play. As the visitors relentlessly flooded the Hamilton backline during the final 120min in hopes of raining on the `Cats big day, the stalwart Steeltown backline stood strong, rebounding well and disarming the Dingos `big guns` when it mattered most.
FINAL: HAMILTON WILDCATS 7.6.48 def TORONTO DINGOS 6.9.45