Big second half sees AFL Canberra run over the top of Riverina League

By Matt Malone (The Daily Advertiser)

AFL Canberra proved their class with a come-from-behind victory over Riverina League on Saturday night.

Six straight goals either side of the half-time break did the damage as AFL Canberra maintained their superiority over Riverina with a 12.16 (88) to 10.7 (67) interleague victory at Football Park in Canberra. Riverina showed glimpses of brilliance and it saw the visitors open up a 29-point lead only moments before half-time.

But AFL Canberra responded with three goals in the final three minutes of the second quarter to cut the margin to 11 points at the main break. The home team then came out and dominated the third term, kicking five goals to one to swing the game in their favour and open up a three-goal three-quarter-time lead.

The two teams traded goals in the final term, before Riverina blew any slight chance of victory by missing three consecutive shots on goal, two going out on the full, in the dying minutes. AFL Canberra claimed a well-deserved win in the end and if not for inaccurate kicking, could have put the game to bed early, and again in the third term. But Riverina were left to wonder what could have been after squandering a big lead on the back of some brilliant patches in the first half.

Riverina League coach Jade Hodge was proud of his team’s display. “In particular, that first half, the footy that we played that second half of that second quarter was fantastic and it was really impressive to see how we moved the footy,” Hodge said. “It was a good standard of footy. That first half was pretty spot on and if we could have done that for four quarters then it would have been a lot closer.”

Hodge admitted Canberra proved too difficult to stop once they got the momentum. “We were a bit short in the end with a couple of injuries and they ran over the top of us a bit but effort wise, I thought we were fantastic,” he said. “A couple little crucial mistakes, skill errors and decision making let us down a little bit and they were pretty quick to spread from the stoppage so when they got it, they got us on the outside and they looked very good. But when they didn’t have it on their terms and we applied pressure around the contest, we were right in it.”

Jacob Conlan was excellent at centre-half-back for Riverina. Will Griggs was another to shine, while Jacob Olsson, Jesse Manton and Tom Keogh all had good games. Matt Grocott was the hero for Canberra with six goals in a match-winning display. Campbell Lovell was electric in the first half for the home team, while Beau Walker and Stephen Camp won plenty of the footy.

Walker was given Canberra’s best player award by the Riverina coaches, and Jacob Conlan was given the award for Riverina by Canberra.

The sour note for Riverina was a shoulder injury to young gun Liam Delahunty.


AFL Canberra:

Best: Beau Walker

Riverina FNL:

Best: Jacob Conlan