Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The Tianjin Normal University (TJNU) footy club has recently branched out to form a club at its Yangcun campus, the newbies debuting last Saturday in an all-Chinese three-team tournament in Tianjin.
The TJNU City and TJNU Yangcun teams were joined by the SiShen Bombers, the local development squad of the Beijing Bombers, with around 50 Chinese students aged 18-22 taking part. The TJNU City side came out on top on the day, defeating Yangcun 36-25 and the SiShen Bombers 43-13, in a tournament enjoyed by all despite the wind and cold weather.
In other Chinese footy news, the two Aussie expat-based mainland clubs clashed in Shanghai on the weekend of November 10th, with the Beijing Bombers having their first-ever away win over the Shanghai Tigers.
According to Chinese footy development officer Andrew Sawitsch, "The TJNU team is very much student-driven, they train every day and funding and support is coming out of the AFL China/City of Melbourne budget. Their enthusiasm has been great, and it showed, with them winning both games comfortably. With winter setting in, this is probably the last big event, footy match wise, to happen in China for the year. Some training will continue though and we look forward to a big 2008."
TJNU City Campus 5-6-36 d TJNU Yangcun Campus 4-1-25
TJNU Yangcun 3-5-23 d BJ SiShen Bombers 1-2-8
TJNU City 6-7-43 d BJ SiShen Bombers 2-1-13
The week earlier, the mainly Australian-based Beijing Bombers had travelled to Shanghai to take on the Tigers on their home turf. After some initial difficulties with flights, illness, work and injuries Beijing managed to take a squad of 21 down for the game and additional support staff and supporters. This report courtesy of the BJ Bombers.
Among the more memorable efforts to make the game was Grant Keys who will learn from his mistake of eating baozi from a street vendor. After missing his initial flight, waiting for the imodium to take affect, the only ticket he could get was a first class ticket. This was also taking place on the weekend of his first wedding anniversary, so a special thanks to Alison as well. Tom Luckock made the final decision to travel at 4am on the morning of the game as he was leaving the office. 45 minutes of sleep later and he played a solid game at fullback.
The day started well with the players all arriving on time, even those who relied on the punctuality of Chinese domestic travel on the morning of the game. The new uniforms looked great and we at least had the appearance of the team. After losing the toss and kicking into the wind Beijing started well keeping it tight all over the ground. It was clear many players on both teams were desperate for a win and some niggle was apparent early in the match. Andrew Sawitsch letting his mouth along with his footy do the talking. This seemed to provide the impetus for a tight quarter. Matt Bahen again provided the aggression in the middle of the ground. Despite an emphasis on accuracy in front of goal, and the previous game’s two worst offenders being absent, Joe Sergi and a couple of others filled the void. The backline kept it tight and the quarter time score saw Beijing down by a goal 2.3.15 to 1.3.9.
At quarter time the coach called for renewed intensity, kick it long to full forward to allow Skiddies to out mark his opponent. This request would have been useful if Beijing had managed to get their hands on the footy. Shanghai, realising that Beijing had come to play, turned on an excellent quarter, winning in the middle and attacking the ball hard all over the ground. Most players went missing with very few Beijing highlights in the quarter. Of note was Mic Mittasch making a number of efforts on the wing just before half time to hold up and then win the ball against three or four opponents. Even when Beijing had the ball, the game plan was ignored and poor skills cost many opportunities. Ian Ransom was providing a good leading target in the forward line. Shanghai to their credit managed to pile on 6 goals into the wind to take a commanding 6 goal lead into the main break.
There was a sombre atmosphere in the change rooms during the break and although down Beijing were not out of the contest, realising that it would be difficult to play any worse than they just had. The players seemed surprised when the Hoff did not launch into a spray at half time but merely pointed out several glaring inadequacies. A few positional changes were made and he called on several players to lift. Beijing at this time had lost Aidan Nicolson to a recurring back injury that seemed to get better with every beer after the game.
The response was amazing and it seemed a new team took the field in the second half. It started in the centre with Kiel Ryan getting his hand to the ball after Skiddies ran out of petrol tickets. Warren Rixon and Nick Clarke started winning more of the ball in the centre creating numerous forward thrusts. The forward line, following the changes at half time, functioned a lot better. The contribution off the bench was good with Jesse Jacobs and Dom Gray getting their hands on the footy and moving it forward directly leading to a few goals. Alex Bruce also contributed filling in positions where required. Christian Solomon was working hard and helping bring the ball into the forward line.
Wade McLeod got on the end of a couple of nice passages of play to slot a couple home. Steven Rixon kept running as Shanghai defenders drew straws to see who would have to try and chase him. He was providing plenty of support to his teammates in the forward line, continuously receiving handballs and putting on shepherds. The defence was excellent in this quarter with JB McAuley springing to life along with Pete Nolan creating plenty of run out of the backline. Workaholic was also getting his fist to the ball preventing Shanghai numerous scoring opportunities. He was ably assisted in defence by Mr Ed Smith who was solid throughout the game. The end of the third quarter, one where Beijing fought back into the wind, saw the Bombers trail by only 11 points.
Beijing knew they were in with a chance of the first away win in China Cup history and seemed determined to take the opportunity. The Bombers dominated early play but kicked inaccurately, eventually taking the lead with a series of behinds. The scores remained close or level before a goal from Teeth on the run from a long way out, though not quite the 80m he claimed later in the evening. Shanghai fought back and got the scores level again before "How did I miss that?" Ransom earned his nickname. Following a scramble in the goal square the ball ended up in Rasom's hands about 1 meter out. Despite the shot being harder to miss than to kick, he managed to direct it through for a behind. Hoff, who was standing next to him unmarked, let out a cry of anguish that might have aroused nearby dogs. Ransom would later claim he was going for the 7 point play as the resulting play saw the ball end up with Sergi who finally kicked straight enough for the ball to wind up in the Hoff’s hands in the pocket on a tight angle. The resulting goal put the Bombers 7 points up with not long to play. Skiddies slotted another one through to cap off his excellent game just before the siren to give the Bombers a 13 point win.
Final score: Beijing 12.14.86 d Shanghai 11.7.73.
Beijing Goals – Keys 3, Bahen 2, McLeod 2, Sergi 2, Hoffman 2, Sawitsch
Best – Bahen, Keys, Clarke, whole team in the 2nd half.
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