By OSCAR PERRI
Federals overcame the Pioneer Eagles Football club in a fiery game under the lights at Albrecht on Saturday, despite struggling to turn most scoring opportunities into goals.
A strong defensive effort from Pioneer defenders forced inaccuracy from the Feds, who scored 23 behinds to their 10 goals, but a lack of pressure from the Eagles midfield allowed them to get the ball forward enough to put on a winning score anyway.
Bigger bodies and structured ball movement in the midfield had the Pioneers chasing the Federals midfielders’ tails in the middle of the ground for much of the game, struggling to take possession and getting frustrated in the process.
Half forward Copelan Ford and ruckman Daniel Gorry out-contested their Pioneer opponents in the air, but often found themselves first to the ball without much pressure in the middle.
It’s not too often that a losing team’s back half is impressive, but the tough work from Pioneer’s key defenders Christopher Kopp and Timmy Pepperill to deny any easy opportunities, and half back Tyrell Woodbury’s silky work to clean up and get the ball out was admirable, and certainly impacted the scoreboard.
Feds had managed just two goals to nine behinds by quarter time with both majors coming off the boot of Henry Impu, who would go on to bring his tally to five majors for the game, while their opposition’s only convincing foray forward resulted in a lone goal to Eric Williams.
The game continued on a similar trajectory after the first break, though the Eagles were finding a little more of the ball as they tightened up in the contest, and moved the ball a bit more effectively out of the back half, while the Feds continued to struggle to put it between the big sticks.
Two late goals from Ainsley Walker saved the Feds from an embarrassing half time scoring accuracy to bring the score to 6 goals 12, against the Pioneers’ 3 goals straight. Frustration was obviously getting to both teams, the tackling got harder and the umpires were given little respect from the players.
Scuffles broke out on a couple occasions during the game, resulting in players from both sides being sent off to cool their heads, there were even sharp words between the two coaches as the teams went their seperate ways at the half-time break.
In the second half, the players were looking to hurt their opposition in the contest, but the Feds took hold of the game, with Ford finding much more of the ball, and Impu finding a way to tear holes in the defence that had held him well for much of the game to put on two more goals for the quarter.
Thomas Swan had lifted for the Pioneers in the midfield, but could not do it all on his own.
At three quarter time Pioneer captain Jawoyn Cole-Manolis gave his team an expletive laden grilling in the huddle about their lack of pressure, which was very audible to the opposition and spectators alike.
While his team were able to respond and put on three goals to one, including a late quarter fifth goal to Williams, it was not enough to change the result.
The Federals looked in good touch with the ball in the last quarter, using their heads well to put players into good positions behind the ball, they were still haunted in front of goal, scoring one goal and seven behinds but going on to win by 34 points.