After starting their 2011 campaign with a solid team win over a tough Toronto Rebels side, the Hamilton Wildcats returned to Guelph’s Margaret Greene Park to face the 2008 Ontario Australian Football League Premieres, Etobicoke Kangaroos, in Round 2. The ’Roos showed why they are a perennial powerhouse, thumping the Wildcats 107 (15 goals, 17 singles) to 26 (four goals, 2 singles).
As both Clubs arrived in Guelph, the rain also decided to join, leaving the oval at Margaret Greene Park slick and turning the footy into a three-pound bar of soap. It definitely looked like it was going to be a hard fought game of wet weather footy, a brand of football the Wildcats typically love to play. Due to a couple late changes to the Hamilton roster, second-year ruckman, Ed “Das Boot” DeBruin was given the job in the middle all afternoon long, as fellow ruckmen Daniel Crouch and Paul Lawson were both unavailable for the Round 2 match.
Despite the lack of interchange for the big Dutchman, he did an extremely admirable job against the much more experienced talls of the Roos.
Hamilton opened with the first goal of the game (Brendan Major), but the Roos, who were playing their first match of the season, responded within seconds to even the score. After starting the game on their heels, Etobicoke looked to have tilted the table in their direction after kicking their first major of the match and many of the bounces around the ground also went their way.
At the end of the first quarter, Hamilton trailed by 12 points, and knew they needed to come out firing to start the second if they were to have any chance of up-ending the 2008 OAFL Champs. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, the second quarter did not go the Wildcats way and the Kangaroos capitalized on many Hamilton mistakes to widen the scoring gap heading into the half.
The Wildcats were featuring six players on the day with less than two games of footy experience, and at times it showed against a veteran Roos side. Despite many of the Wildcats experiencing their first taste of footy against one of the league’s top sides, the ‘Cats rookies definitely earned their stripes on the day, and made the job for the game day coaching Panel even tougher. Justin Hyde, Jeremy “Jizza” Taylor, Sean “Shrek” DiRago, Connor Lowry and Gary “MCG” Hessmer all played well, and looked to get stronger as the game wore on.
Despite the lop sided score, this was an incredibly close game at times, with lots of great tackling and some incredible marks taken in the rain. Hamilton players Brett “Nuts” Aiken, Luke “Digits” Lombardini (“Hard Hat Award” – hardest working player), Kris McKillop, Justin Johns, Eben Schaeffer, Brendan Major (three goals) and Michael Visser all stood out for the ‘Catters, and showed many who were in attendance why this year’s Wildcat Club is going to do some damage in the OAFL.
Next game for the Wildcats is Saturday (May 28) when the Central Blues (1-1), visit Mohawk Sports Park for an 11 a.m. start.
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