NC Tigers at Baltimore/Washington

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NC Tigers @ BWE Recap
The NC Tigers opened their 2014 campaign on the road this weekend with a tough loss to the Baltimore-Washington Eagles at the National Mall in DC.

The Tigers showed a lot of grit and determination throughout the game against an experienced and talented opposition and will take a lot of positives out of their opening match. The 22-man squad that traveled for the Tigers included 5 rookies playing in their first ever game of footy, as well as the return of a couple of veteran Tigers pulling on a yellow and black guernsey for the first time in a couple of years. While the running attack of the Eagles allowed them to outscore the Tigers in every quarter, there were many positive passages of play from the Tigers as they showed glimpses of the exciting brand of footy they’ll be putting on display as the season progresses.

1st Quarter

The Eagles came fast out of the blocks to start the game, stunning the Tigers with 2 early goals set up by good running support and linking handballs that allowed their dangerous midfielders and forward line to find space. Zac Tart then showed he hasn’t lost a step since last lacing up the cleats, steadying the Tigers with a much needed goal after outworking his opponent to gain possession of the ball. Full back Mark Griffin and his troops then worked hard to hold off a barrage of Eagle attacks throughout the quarter, denying the home side of quality scoring chances by applying relentless pressure to their opponents. A late goal from a free kick gave the Eagles momentum heading into the quarter-time break.

1/4 Time: Tigers 1.0 6 v Eagles 3.5 23

2nd Quarter

The Tigers came out much hungrier in the 2nd quarter and were able to control a lot more of the football than they did in the 1st, getting the flow of play out of their own defensive 50 for longer periods of time. Dennis Kurtz took a number of pivotal marks at Center Half Back to rebound the ball out of the Tiger’s defensive end, providing a lot more opportunities for the Tiger’s forwards to get involved. The quarter was highlighted by a strong contested mark by Pete Capozziello in front of goal who went back and slotted it home from 25m out. However, the Eagles onslaught continued as they piled on another 3 goals for the quarter.

Half Time: Tigers 2.1 13 v Eagles 6.11 47

3rd Quarter

The intensity of the game lifted in the second half, and the Tigers continued to improve after half-time as rookies Nelson, RJ and Joe gained confidence and lifted their level of play. Nelson provided plenty of run through the middle for the Tigers and RJ stood tall while taking a tough high-hit from the Eagles’ ruckman. Scott Bradley showed he only needs one good hamstring to leap into the air, taking a spectacular mark over teammate Pete Cap that is an early candidate for mark of the year. Coach Wes’ crumbing drills from training also paid off during the quarter when a second Bradley attempt at a speccy wasn’t brought down and Nick Camilleri found himself front and center to pick up the crumbs and slot home the Tiger’s 3rd goal.

3/4: Tigers 3.1 19 v Eagles 9.14 68

4th Quarter

While the Eagles continued to rotate their players on and off the bench in the last term, the Tigers players put on a gutsy display and ran the game out strong. Mark Griffin and Stephen Harper spent some time in the Tigers’ midfield with their veteran experience helping to win plenty of individual contests. The Tigers’ trademark zone setup for opposing kick-ins paid off forcing a direct turnover that lead to a scoring opportunity. Tom and Mijo continued to contest well in the ruck, providing lots of opportunities for Tigers to get their hands on the ball first. Nick and Shane put their Aussie chemistry on display with a “1-2” play that lead to the 4th goal of the day for North Carolina.

Full Time:

Team Goals Behinds Total
North Carolina Tigers 4 4 28
B/W Eagles 15 17 107

A large group of both Tigers and Eagles players enjoyed a couple of beverages after the game at the social function hosted by the Eagles where the Tigers were able to get a win for the day with a victory in the traditional “boat race”. The Tigers will hit the training track at 10am this Saturday May 24th at Brier Creek before being back in action at home on Saturday May 31st when they take on the Atlanta Kookaburras at 2:30pm in Carrboro at Hank Anderson Community Park.

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