The ANU Owls travelled to Melbourne on April 6 to take on the University of Melbourne in their second Intervarsity AFL fixture for 2016. The team was coming off of a hard fought battle with the University of Adelaide and was looking to avenge last year’s loss to Melbourne while recording their first IV AFL Win.
Rain was forecast for the entire day and only moments before the bounce the heavens opened up. It was clear it was going to be a pretty tough day out for both teams. The teams ran out in front of a strong crowd, both in their traditional blue strips, proving difficult to distinguish the two sides. Melbourne gained possession from the bounce and had a quick inside 50 opportunity. The Owls were able to slow the play down but only momentarily as Melbourne scored their first goal. Neither side were able to build any continuity as the match descended into a scrappy affair. But again it was Melbourne who were able to capitalise on the few opportunities that did present for their team, stretching the lead to 14-0 half way through the first quarter. In such wet conditions 14 points was not an insignificant lead.
Returning to the centre square for the bounce the Owls took it upon themselves to switch their jerseys inside out (#Thoughtleaders), now in white and distinct from the Melbourne University blue. This seemed to be the turning point in the match as the Owls cleared from the bounce directly into the Melbourne Uni 50 for their first score, a behind. ANU applied pressure and Melbourne were unable to exit their own half. ANU suddenly gained ascendancy, winning every contested possession but were unable to convert ending the first quarter trailing 2.2.14 – 0.5.5.
The Owls carried their momentum from the end of the 1st straight into the second quarter and it wasn’t long before ANU scored their first goal off the boot of Ryan Bradley. The team converted on a few high tens into hugs on the way back to the centre square. It was clear ANU were up to the challenge. The match descended into a very scrappy affair in the wet yet the Owls continued to win contested possessions, being hard over the ball, spoiling everything and out working their opponents. The Owls were relishing the wet weather. Two more goals, one to Matt Grocott and another to Ryan Bradley had the owls leading 3.7.25 – 3.2.20 at the half. Coach Anthony Bourke was incredibly pleased with what he saw in the first half.
Two very different sides entered the 3rd quarter, an ANU Owls team riding high and a frustrated Melbourne University outfit. Melbourne University continued to attempt an expansive game and when they got the ball into space they were very dangerous. Key defenders Tom Short and David Hutchinson thwarted the Melbourne uni attack on almost every occasion. ANU turned every possession into a contest and through sheer determination ensured it was a contest they would win. In the 3rd the Owls extended their lead to 5.10.40 – 4.3.27.
ANU opened the 4th quarter with a sequence that would have any coach losing their hair, scoring 6 consecutive behinds in less than 5 minutes. Eventually a goal would come to Matt Grocott who had been outstanding all day, taking the lead to 6.16.52 – 4.3.27. While it may not have been the easiest route, the Owls had finally put some significant distance between themselves and their hosts. Though the Owls would not relent scoring another 2 goals, one to Jason Li and another to James Hancock to seal the victory 8.18.66 – 5.5.35.
The victory marked the first win for the ANU Owls in the Intervarsity AFL program.
Intervarsity AFL will be back in 2017!