Hawks fly high in footy in season opener

AND just like that, its winter on King Island. The grey moody skies made for a poetic juxtaposition to the lush, meticulously manicured green of the Currie Oval – in its best nick ever, with the fresh white crisp and controversial fence encasing its borders.

The scene was set for Round One, a Grand Final replay, Grassy vs North, for Australia’s smallest league. All junior and senior players lined up for a minute’s silence to respect those players and family of players who have passed away in the last 12 months. Grassy wore black arm bands for Graham Conley, Fay Sherriff, Vikki Sharman, Jenifer Baily and Gys van Ruiswyk.

North wore black arm bands for Graham Conley – he played for both sides – Mary Vellekoop and Graham Watts. Jeremy (Jez) Summer, last year’s Keating medallist, had the first shot at goal.

Some first game wobbles saw it out on the full. North got plenty of hands on the ball in the first seven minutes with little reward, until Jye Summers found the goals as the rain started to pelt down. The first quarter quickly turned into a slippery, scrappy, messy hunt for territory. Will Cleeland gained possession for Grassy in the forward but jagged it wide.

Toward the end of the first quarter the rain came down harder and sheeted the play. For the returning game of the season, in these conditions, the ball control and skills were impressive. There was plenty of ping ponging in the middle 50 with Sartori pumping one long into the Grassy 50 only to have it retreat on him, to thrust back moments later in. It was a slow scoring affair to the end of the first quarter but at least the rain has eased.

Second quarter had Grassy with the wind, the rain stopped leaving the ground with the dangerous kind of dewy glow that sends knees one way and bodies the other. Brandon Forrest kicked a quick goal and Ellis did a lot of hard running for North, while Cleeland saw a lot of it for Grassy. Justin Summers kicked one from the cricket nets pocket.

An excellent ball up from umpire Mark, had Grassy push forward resulting in a minor score from Bowling. Monson opted for a little soccer style and in these slippery conditions who could blame him. For the on-ball athletes who enjoy running there was plenty to be had with short periods of congestion and long periods of spacious play, and plenty of meadow to frolic on. Goal for Cleeland, behind from a free and 50 for Forrest, Grassy forwards were starting to see plenty of the ball and Cleeland went for goal close to the siren but had to settle for a minor score.

At the half-time break, North went in five points up and we had a tussle on our hands in this opening game. The second half started in some afternoon sunshine. Grassy opened their second half account with a Freddy Tatawaqa goal. Behinds for both teams followed. Keenan Fanning goaled from a free and a 50 for North put them back in front to break the drought. The ball continued to find Noseda floating in the Grassy back line.

In a rare moment the ball snuck past the Ali-like backman, Mark Mackie (Macka). He took a grab from Justin’s centering kicking for a goal. A dribble kick goal for Cleeland quickly followed at the other end. Freddy lined up another for Grassy and found the big sticks and the Sartori v Jez Summers pairing shaped up to be a pretty nice competition between a couple of big rigs.

The final quarter started with Grassy eight points in front. It was back and forth up the field to begin the fourth quarter – a test of round one fitness levels, that seemed on an even keel. Wardlaw opened the final quarter account with a goal for Grassy. Grassy remained steady keeping passes clean but plenty of contested footy remained. Cleeland snapped one from 50 on what now appeared to be a gassed North backline. Lloyd Barnett doing his own rover work, pushed forward for Grassy for another, and quickly extended Grassy’s lead to 26.

Justin Summers goaled at the North end and both teams began to pile on a few goals in the last. Cleeland put on a clinic for wet weather football, pockets goals for Grassy, while Richard Sutton goaled at the other. A quick exit by Sukma Bowling from centre to a good, con- tested mark, Cleeland opted for a banana to get another. Baily Rainbow and Cleeland were a good hard contested matchup in the Grassy forward line late in the game.

After an athletic game, Jez Summers book-ended the game with another shot on goal which he hooked late. The final siren handed Grassy the first win of the season by 28 points AUSKICK has started Saturdays 10am at the Currie Football oval. Ages 5yrs – 12yrs boys and girls.

Please ensure all players are registered on play. AFL prior to commencement. Click on the register button and search for King Island Auskick. Contact Stacy Martin 0429 611 019 with queries. Next Week: Grassy v Currie. All games this season are in Currie.

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