After starting the 2011 Ontario Australian Football League season off with a bang, the Wildcats were humbled by the class of the competition in Round 2. They were hoping for some redemption to a poor showing a week prior against the Etobicoke Kangaroos, with a solid win over the reigning OAFL Premieres, the Central Blues. And that they did in convincing fashion hanging a 51 (7-9) to 34 (5-4) defeat on the Blues.
In 2010, Hamilton fell in both games against the Blues.
The game was originally scheduled to be held in Hamilton, but due to inclement weather the City of Hamilton pulled all field permits and the contest was moved to Margaret Greene Park in Guelph at the 11th hour. A big thank you goes out to the City of Guelph, and the Guelph Gargoyles AFC, for hosting the Wildcats and Blues on such short notice.
The Central Blues – 1-1 going into the game – and coming off their first OAFL Championship in Club history last season were looking to defend their flag, but the new look Wildcats were standing in their way and were definitely not going to be anyone’s stepping stone into the finals in 2011.
As the game got underway, it was evident that the wet conditions were going to keep this a low scoring, hard hitting affair. As both Clubs had difficulty scoring in their previous Round(s), tensions were running high: Both clubs knew that the team scoring first would definitely gain the upper hand and much of the momentum. Thanks to some incredible second and third efforts in the guts by the Wildcats’ Luke “Digits” Lombardini, Hamilton’s leading scorer, Brendan “Peaches” Major, added to his ’11 haul by putting the “yellow & black” on the board first with a great goal from outside 40m.
After the opening goal, the Blues answered back, but the battles across the middle of the ground seemed to be consistently won by the Wildcats. Fantastic games by midfielders Brett Aiken, Lombardini (BOG on the day), ruckman Ed “Das Boot” DeBruin, B. Major snd Harley Graef definitely bouyed the spirits of the Hamilton faithful and their courage spurred the rest of the ‘Cats on for the remaining 80 minutes.
Hamilton’s backline, lead by Fullback for a day Justin “OMJ” Johns, first gamer Drew “DD” Dupras, Vice Captain Justin “Purple Tripod” Settle and the ever improving HBF Steve “Sassel” Assel all played phenominal games, holding the Blues to only 34 points on the day. The strength of the backline and midfielders was the story for the Wildcats on the day, as they eventually ran out winners earning four big points against a top side, and improving to 2-1 on the season.
One of the side stories to this game, was that of former Bentleigh FC teammates Brett “Nuts” Aiken (playing for Hamilton) and Daniel Wills (playing for Central). The match-up between former Oz teammates, now rivals, didn’t disappoint. Both players had incredible games for their respective clubs and could have easily won BOG on the day. The heart and hustle displayed by both, were massive learning experiences for all new players on how football should be played; hard to the ball, fair and with passion!
Hamilton will head back up to Guelph for Round #4 to face the top of the ladder High Park Demons (3-0). It’s been some tough competition to start the year for the Wildcats, as they have already faced the 2008 OAFL Preimieres (Roos – LOSS), 2010 Premieres (Blues – WON) and now go up against the high scoring attack of the Demons away from home. Please come out to support the Wildcats as they look to improve their record to 3-1 on the year and sling slot themselves up the OAFL ladder.
HAMILTON GOALS: B. Major (3), L. Lombardini (1), J. Steinmetz (1), M. Krikke (1), K. McKillop (1)
HAMILTON BEST: L. Lombardini (BOG), A. Pawliwec (Hard Hat Award), B. Aiken, B. Major, J. Johns, J. Settle