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Wallabies and Redbacks in a Nailbiter

August 26, 2023

Roving Roo Reporter

Running a footy club in the US is never an easy thing to do, and occasionally the planets fall out of alignment and things go bad. The Cincinnati Dockers were unable to field a team to visit the Nashville Kangaroos on Saturday, so the Kangaroos in stead turned the event into a Metro game and were able to accomplish everything they intended to accomplish, not the least of which was to provide some exciting footy for the Roo faithful who gathered for the event.

The day kicked off with a USAFL rules session, with USAFL UA Umpire Head Coach Jeff Persson providing not just the rules that the players need to understand, but how to utilize that knowledge to their advantage within the game by staying within the rules. These types of sessions are important in the development of new players (and frankly, of some of the veterans, too). The boys were then able to use this straight away in the game.

Captain James “JD” Duty ran the boys through several drills to help get repetitions of game like situations, with a triangle kick and chase, a switch and kick for goal drill followed by some boundary throw in work and center bounce drills to get the midfielders touches in which they then have to feed the forwards (who in turn have to be defended by the defense).

Then it was time to truly entertain the fans. With the squads evenly divided into the Wallabies and Redbacks, and taking the blistering Tennessee heat into account, a standard metro game of four ten-minute quarters was held. With volunteers helping in goals, at the commentary booth, and distributing the day’s Footy Guide, the fans were in for a treat.

The first quarter scoring started with a behind for each team until Revolution player Andrew “OD” O’Dwyer got the first major of the day for the Wallabies. That lead was short-lived as the rookie Brett Philpott got his first career goal to level the scores. Soon thereafter, the new daddy Andrew Gleichert kicked his first of the season to give the Wallabies the lead again, but again the Redbacks had the answer as former Best and Fairest Logan Monday, coming out of retirement for one-day-only, launched a bomb and the Redbacks led at the first break, 2.2 (14) to 2.1 (13).

The boys sucked down a bunch of fluids and headed back out to the ground to continue the battle. After a couple of behinds, veteran Luke “I want to be the Bagman” Chadwick took a mark and kicked true from 25 out, followed by a Thomas Procter goal and then a second from Luke Chadwick, and the Wallabies were looking unstoppable. However, another newbie (if being over 40 one can still be called that) Nathan Kotzur crumbed a loose ball and got his first of the season and just before the siren Brett Philpott got his second. At the major break, the Wallabies had a slim lead 5.1 (31) to 4.4 (27).

The second half started with the same intensity and Redbacks forward Logan Monday found space and notched his second of the game to give them the lead. Only behinds were scored the rest of the period as the scores could not be much closer at the end of the Premiership Quarter: Wallabies 5.5 (35) over the Redbacks 5.4 (34).

At this point a number of players deserve mention: David Gonzalez, in his rookie campaign, showed game smarts and skills in the Redback backline as he took multiple marks to prevent scoring chances. Ty Harden, also a rookie, was doing the same for the Wallabies defensive line. Putting them together along with former Best And Fairest Saul Camarena means the Kangaroos defense should do well at Nationals. Helping out the midfield play were a couple of veterans Cody McLain and Maurice “SloMo” Howell, whose presence and calm-under-fire play helped show the newbies that there is never any need to panic. And the Ancient One, Evan “Colonel” Ling showed that even when you reach 100, you can still play footy (he’s not 100 he’s only 87… or something like that).

The match was clearly going to come down to the final minutes of play, and the boys on both sides were in 'take-no-prisoners’ mode and it showed on the scoreboard: The crafty Luke Chadwick got things going right away with a clever goal and a “look what I found” goal bringing his total on the day to four. That was followed up by Saul Camarena pushing out of the halfback line and proving that the goal kicking work he has been doing in training is paying off as he nailed his first of the game. The Redbacks shook off the onslaught and Nathan Kotzur stole (literally) one from teammate Logan Monday, and then Thomas Procter showed that midfielders can score too, with a beautiful snap from 40 yards. Logan Monday then kicked one that couldn’t be stolen by a teammate and as the clock wound down the Redbacks trailed by only two points! But the comeback was thwarted when speedster Maurice Howell got loose and stretched the lead to more than a goal and as the siren sounded, the Wallabies had the win, 9.7 (61) to 8.4 (52).

The boys one and all gave everything they had and put on a spectacular show for the fans. And not to be lost in the moment, this was a tremendous learning opportunity for so many rookies as the boys will welcome long-time rival Chicago Swans to Elmington for the final match of the 2023 regular season, on September 16th. Be sure to come out for that match, where the Kangaroos will be welcoming Holy Trinity Montessori students and parents who are learning about Australian culture, including Australian sports. In addition to the footy match we are planning a netball demonstration as well. So come join the fun, watch and be entertained by the Roos as they take on the Swans, and get a kick out of the kids running around saying “G’Day, Mate!”

See you at Elmington on September 16!


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