Attending my first AFL final was everything I hoped it would be. From the minute we hit Central station the swarm of red and white was evident. The closer we got to the ground, the thicker the crowds became and it was clear it was the place to be.
The queue to get into the stadium was insane. It took a ridiculously long time to make it through the gates and the first bounce occurred before we were able to take our seats. I wouldn’t have had it any other way though. There was not a spare seat in the house and the effect was amazing.
The atmosphere was incredible. The first quarter was a lot closer than it should have been, with our defensive efforts (or lack thereof) keeping them in the game. Fortunately their inaccurate kicking kept them from converting any ascendancy into scoreboard pressure. The few Essendon fans in the stadium were bravely piping up and letting us know they were there.
Let’s just say the second quarter silenced them. Sadly, the game was all but over by half time. With Buddy kicking a few and almost everything we touched turning to goals, there was not a lot of fight left in Essendon for the rest of the game. It was a dominant performance and one that highlighted just how far we have come this season. As the Swans left the field at half time we gave them a standing ovation. They had essentially gotten the job done and we couldn’t be more proud.
When a win is effectively secured so early, you cannot help but start to worry about injuries. As Rohan was forced from the field with what appeared to be a leg injury, I was more than a little concerned. It happened right in front of us and while play continued, our eyes were fixed firmly on Gary and the attention he was getting from the physio. As he got to his feet and began to run it off along the sideline, we applauded and cheered. It seems we all know just how important he is to our finals campaign.
When the final siren sounded we all got to our feet and belted out our song. It was an amazing performance and they are undoubtedly a team filling their fans with pride. I am nervous but hopeful about Geelong next week, but given the nature of our season, we are already winners in my eyes, no matter where our season ends.
Living the hard life of a dual code footy fan, I had to hurry home for my next instalment. I missed the first 15 minutes or so of the rugby and wasn’t surprised to see only penalty goals had been exchanged. It was to be expected playing South Africa. Going into the match I wasn’t sure which way it would go, but I think the ending was fitting.
Our attack was good and seems to be improving. Beale is really stepping up and his kicking around the field has really improved. He seemed more capable of getting us down the other end of the park than Foley and I am pleased to see those duties getting shared around. There were still more errors than we can afford and I feel our work at the breakdown leaves a lot to be desired. Both New Zealand and South Africa have stolen too much ball and we don’t seem to be returning the favour.
With very little between the two sides it could have gone either way. We had our chances and so did they. Our set piece was not as reliable as it should be and their dominance is ultimately what kept us from capitalising on our opportunities. If we could insert their set piece into our game, we would have a side that could take down the All Blacks. If only.
As tough as it would have been for the players, I think it was the right result. No team deserved to win and no team deserved to lose. In another bizarre turn of events, after the rugby finished I turned my attention to the other AFL final. With a few minutes to go the possibility of a tie was being discussed. I thought it unlikely given how easy it is to score a point in AFL. I was wrong.
With scores tied at the end of the fourth quarter, they went into two extra time periods. An amazing effort prevented a behind during regular time and off to extra time they went. With Port Adelaide three scoring shots ahead I thought they had it won. West Coast however, kept refusing to lie down. In a ridiculous turn of events they kicked a goal after the siren to win by two points. All I can say is good luck to GWS next week.
After a weekend off from footy last weekend, I must admit I loved having it back. There is nothing more interesting or unpredictable and completely and utterly addictive. Here’s hoping the Swans get up next week, because I am not ready to give up my weekly dose just yet.