The Australian National University (ANU) played their third and final Group of Eight (Go8) Intervarsity AFL fixture on Tuesday 11 April, taking on The University of Melbourne (UoM) at ANU South Oval. Following an 8-point home victory against UQ and a 49-point defeat at the hands of Adelaide University over the last two weeks, the Owls were looking to post one more win to finish the season with a respectable 2-1 record.
Despite fielding some new faces in light of injuries and player unavailability, coach Anthony Bourke still managed to galvanise the team through his constant enthusiasm and encouragement.
Players struggled with the conditions in the early stages of the match, battling a swirling wind and slippery surface. Multiple stoppages and turnovers made it difficult for either team to gain early dominance in the match. A goal to James Hancock halfway through the quarter got the Owls the lead before a quick reply from Melbourne tied the game up. Some wayward set shots from both teams at the back end of the quarter left the score 8-7 in favour of ANU at the break.
The second quarter continued where the previous had ended – inefficient disposals leading to turnovers at each half of the ground. Matt Teasdale and Charlie Henshall worked hard around the stoppages and found plenty of space on the wings. While Dave Hutchison was one of ANU’s best at full-back diffusing anything that came his way. Some strong leads and contested marks from Will Jones and James Hancock, gave ANU a brace of goals before UoM hit back with one of their own. Half time score 22-16 in ANU’s favour.
The half time oranges gave both teams the opportunity to get in the sheds and review their tactics heading into the premiership quarter. From the first bounce of the second half, the intent from both teams had lifted, putting their heads over the footy at every occasion. Continuing the theme of the match, ANU and Melbourne traded goals each before UoM kicked clear in the final stages of the term. ANU’s goals to Brad Posch and Jake Gibbs. Only 2 points in it, UoM lead ANU 37-35 with the final term remaining.
Bang, Bang! The visitors kicked into gear in the 4th quarter and began to run over a tiring ANU outfit. Despite some turnovers at half back, ANU were unable to capitalise and hit their targets. On the other hand, everything turned to gold for the visitors and their class prevailed. A dominant display of five unanswered goals gave the University of Melbourne a well-deserved victory 68-36.
Congratulations to each and every player that represented the Owls across the three Intervarsity AFL fixtures in 2017. It is a great opportunity for students to play with their peers against other institutions across the country. Many thanks must also go to UQ and Melbourne Uni for travelling, and Adelaide Uni for hosting over the past three weeks. Finally, we are thankful for the support of ANU AFL Club, ACT AFL, umpires and volunteers to ensure the games proceed successfully.
We are looking forward to progressing Go8 Intervarsity in 2018, but for now we turn our focus to the University Games program coming up in July and September.