Cougars upset Saints in '08
Tuesday, January 13 2009 @ 11:44 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
worldfootynews.com didn't manage to get a match report from Canada's North West Pacific AFL / BC Footy grand final back in September 2008, with game played in the immediate after-glow of the third International Cup. Given that it is turning out to be a slow news week and we've belatedly received this report, here it is, courtesy of Stuart Grills.
Australian Football, in any sense, can be seen as one of the funniest and unpredictable games played on this earth. Consider the ball shape, the amount of player on the field, the different methods to move the ball toward goal, the size of the field and so on. And if you add to the mix the ability of coaches and staff to manipulate and control player movement, style and approach the game becomes even more unpredictable. But no one could ever really say the Australian Rules Football lacks entertainment value!
So it was that on Saturday September 13th at 2pm the league bottom dwellers Vancouver Cougars (VAFC) fronted against the new powerhouse West Coast Saints (WCAFC) in what was destined to be a strange Grand Final. In the history of the NWPAFL (now BCfooty) 8 Grand Final games have been played and rarely has it been a sure bet as to who would win. Many stories abound about the great victories of the Seattle AFC, and the battles of yesteryear surrounding exceptional individual performances. It is hard to forget the Game winning performance of Mugsey Mullins while wearing a Seattle jumper and the heart stabbing goal by Peter Campion (playing with the Seattle AFC) to ensure a Seattle win over the valiant Cougars. But witnessing a team led march to victory has been less evident - except for now.
It is fair to note that the Saints were unable to field the same complete side they had been playing throughout the year. Canadian powerhouses Chip Bowley, James Maitland and Clayton Holmes were making their way around the Australian outback after playing with the Northwind National side. Saints Coach Scott Sheen had some head aches but for all intent and purpose the on paper match up still tilted slightly toward the more rounded Saints team.
The Cougars missed some experience in Sam Stevens and have never really found a replacement for the Australian bound Scott Fleming. However, as a unit the Cougars had grown together well and the team was bouncing off a very very solid performance against the Burnaby AFC - Eagles. When Umpires Horan and Stratford announced the start of the game an air of uncertainty hushed the crowd. It should be noted that the 2008 GF was also witness to the largest crowd ever assembled to watch an individual game on BC soil. Well over 150 people attended the event and cheered, hissed and haggled accordingly. Immediately the signs were apparent that the Cougars were serious about playing in a GF. Saints centre line players were forced to scramble to maintain composure under intense pressure. It was evident that the Saints were prepared to throw everything they had to hit the Cougars hard. However, fast ball movement from onballers such as Baz Kelly, Brad Jorgensen and Craig Hopkins negated such tactics. The pressure remained strong but the Cougars were able to kick 5 unanswered goals in the first term. Utilising the swift ball movement forward Tim Cipolloni and Ryan Carrucan were able to create many opportunities. While being solid across the back Ashley Steier and James Donkin repelled any Saints attempts forward.
Q1 Cougars 5.2.32 to Saints 0.0.0
The ground at UBC had a definite kicking advantage toward the Wesbrook Mall end left of the Members wing and it was expected that the Saints would rally after a nullified first quarter. Brad Teasdale and Matt Sutherland combined nicely to secure 2 majors for the Saints and the Cougars were forced to shore up the back line. 3 time Cougar Best and Fairest winner Tony Cooper was swung into defense and aided the efforts of Ted Murray, Rob Edmonds and Ben McCallum. Several of the junior Cougars battled hard throughout the second term and received a lot of the ball. Leon Dunbar was starting to see a lot of the ball and was becoming a real challenge for the Cougars coaching staff. The Cougars lost the quarter but still maintained a handy lead going into the long break.
Q2 Cougars 7.4.46 to Saints 4.0.24
The Premiership quarter witnessed some of the best football in the history of the footy in BC. Experienced campaigners Jake Bensen and Sam Bonney played great defensive footy for the Saints. But it was the efforts of the Cougars onballers that stood out. Time and time again the ball was moved from deep across the half back line to well into the Cougars forward 50. Ryan McGrath played a tremendous game against Stuart Grills forcing the helmet-head to stray all over the ground to get a touch and Irish sensation Oisan (pronounced O'Sheen) was unstoppable all day for the Saints. The Cougars wasted several opportunities during the quarter. Baz Kelly missing a long shot from the pocket and several other snaps going wayward. New Zealand Joe and Danny Cravino played great games applying bone crunching tackles earning a huge wrap from Cougars Coach Jorgensen at 3/4 time. For the second time in the game the Saints were held scoreless - much to the efforts of Brenton Short and big man Simon!
Q3 Cougars 9.9.63 to Saints 4.0.24
Whilst the game did seem beyond the reach of the battling Saints it is never over till the final siren and the goal scoring end was in the Saints favour. Great tagging by Matt Dube had kept Saint firecracker Lauchlin "Locky" Scott silent and even Mike "firetruck" Lancaster playing his first game since a serious mid season injury could not find touch. But special note needs to be directed at the hardest of Saints battlers - Ward Frost. His hard tackling, aggressive contested marking, directional play and spirit was evident throughout the entire game and throughout the final quarter he held nothing back. His pressure was telling and it was eptimomised when half way through the term he snuck back into the Cougars goal square and took the easiest of marks to rebuke another goal. Even though the crowd questioned the distance covered by the ball Frost accepted the mark with a grin.
The Cougars goal scoring was average at best during the final term. Grills' kicked the cheapest goal imaginable on the goal line. But it was clearly evident that all players, on both teams had given it all they had and the legs were tiring. The spirit of the game and the high standard of football ensured a great day of footy for all the spectators and as the final siren sounded the Cougars had again secured a Grand Final Premiership Victory. A great victory indeed for a team that was struggling to remain competitive throughout the Home and Away series. A great effort by the Saints to battle so hard throughout the day.
Brad Jorgensen accepted the BCfooty Grand Final Cup with a emotional speech. And as the crowd dissipated under the setting late afternoon sun it was hard not to reflect how great the day had been and no matter who carried the cup aloft it really was a "great day for football".
Q4 Cougars 11.14.80 defeating the Saints 4.1.25