Gallant Emus go down in a close game against nippier rivals
Frankfurt Redbacks (12-10-82) versus Stuttgart Emus (11-7-73)
19 May 2012, Ostpark/Frankfurt: If you get out of bed on the wrong foot, the day just doesn’t get any better. And so it was with the Emus third round AFLG match against the Redbacks. Frankfurt, playing at home and choosing to limit the contest to a 12-on-12 affair, blasted five goals and six behinds in the first quarter to humble an Emus side that wasn’t able to prepare properly for the game. It was a case of playing catch up after that.
The Emus did their club proud. Twenty players showed up to play this important away game and a few injured others were there to support them. The trouble was that not all twenty were at the ground in time for kick off due to no fault of their own. Demonstrations in the city of Frankfurt on the day caused the police to block roads leading to the ground and nearly half the Emus players – and the club’s jerseys – only arrived a couple of minutes before an already delayed kick-off. No proper warm-up, no team preparation, no time to settle and focus. It was rotten luck and part of the reason for the poor first quarter.
Energised by their early lead Frankfurt were consistently first at the ball. Clearances at stoppages, especially in the first quarter, hurt the Emus on the scoreboard. At times the Emus seemed to lack pace in defence. These are partially fitness issues but also mental discipline. More work can be done on transitions: switching quickly from attack into defence and visa versa. Another contributing factor may have been the interchange bench – this time, there were not too few but too many changes. With eight Emus on the sideline, all sharing game time, players were probably swapped too often and this didn’t allow the team to settle into a routine. In the last quarter the Emus got within a few points, until Frankfurt kicked a late goal and sealed the Emus fate.
The Emus continued to fight hard all day and compared to previous games there was much more shepherding, run-and-carry options being created and shared team play. The forwards were quite efficient, with Aaron (5 goals) emerging as the leading scorer on the day. Alex created midfield targets out of defence. Nico, in the midfield, improves game for game. He refused to be rushed, took a moment to settle before kicking and delivered some good disposals. Martin added some pace and intensity around the stoppages. Jan found his position in the second half and added some defensive pressure in the forward line. Phil ran through the lines well. Congratulations to Emus debutants, including Paul who stepped up as a support ruckman but also found space on the forward flank. Marcii showed that he could read the play and found himself in space with the ball on several occasions.
A special mention of thanks to Totti who umpired his first game. (Frankfurt didn’t provide an umpire.) He was decisive with the whistle and controlled the game well. He gallantly donated his umpire’s payment of fifty euros back to the club.
No question that every Emu put in a solid game and there is no one who should feel disappointed with their efforts. In the end, Frankfurt had just an ounce more passion to win the game. After an unsettled start the Emus couldn’t recover strongly enough to turn the tables. But there are plenty of positives to build on and still plenty of room to improve before the next game against Munich.
Match report: Grant Walsh