By Ali Taleb
Coburg have fallen agonisingly short against a game North Melbourne side in an instant classic at Piranha Park. A 9 goal to 1 first quarter, a Mitch Podhajski near impossible miracle goal from the boundary and a clutch snap 10 seconds before the final siren to win the game was all part of the high drama at Coburg this afternoon.
On Vicki Cleary Day, with a rousing speech by Coburg legend Phil Cleary before the game, both sides showed dedication and commitment to their teammates, with the Kangaroos providing despair for the Lions faithful with a last gasp Lewin Davis winner to give them a 3 point victory.
Today’s game made up its own script, with the Lions roaring out the gate kicking 8 goals in a row in the first term, taking advantage of the strong breeze before North got a much needed settler through Tom Wilkinson late in the quarter. The heat was on early as Coburg had repeat inside 50 entries putting the Roo’s defence under pressure, and they were able to convert a number of great opportunities. Mitch Podhajski kicked 3 for the term taking 2 strong contested marks in the forward half, while Muhammad Saad got his first goal in VFL football.
North Melbourne were slow to get going, and went into the huddle with Coburg leading by 52 points at the first break, but as the sides changed ends, North were able to take advantage in the second qyarter.
While there was no obvious breeze towards Coburg’s scoring end in the first, the roles of both sides had seemed to switch over. The Kangaroos replied with 8 goals of their own in the second term while allowing the Lions to add only 1 goal to their first quarter total.
Becoming more settled, the Kangaroos started controlling possession and dictating play. As prominent North Melbourne young gun Luke Davies-Uniacke got more of the ball, the Kangaroos started to fire early in the 2ndquarter. Kicking the first 3 goals of the term and 2 in just as many minutes.
Putting the Lions defence under extreme pressure having repeat inside 50 metre entries, big man Lachlan Hosie kicked 2 in the second quarter. A brilliant late rebound 50 from the Kangaroos ending in a Sam Wright running goal from 50 out had put North within a kick coming into Half time.
As both teams marched off the field, the second half looked perfectly poised.
An arm wrestle continued in the third and fast play was the order for the next 30 minutes. Early on the Lions got some assurance back with Muhammad Saad picking up a loose ball out the back and running into an open goal, kicking his 2ndfor the day and giving the Lions the lead once again.
As both times struggled for territory, Majak Daw stood firm in the Kangaroo defence, Taking multiple intercept marks and setting up counter attacking play from North’s backline as the Burgers continued to try and take advantage of the wind.
After multiple repeat entries for the Lions, first gamer Tye Browning got a chance to give his side some breathing space late in the third. Converting truly from 45 out, this was a proud moment for him but an even bigger one for his club.
The Lions went into 3 quarter time leading North by 17 points.
The drama had just began however, as an incredibly competitive fourth quarter left fans on the edge of their seats til the final siren.
North had 5 scoring shots in the first 10 minutes of the last quarter but only converting once, reducing the margin and playing at high intensity.
The Lions had missed a chance early on off the back of silky play down back by Dickson, who had continued to run on and find Steven Stroobants 30 metres out on a tough angle. Ultimately, Stroobants was only able to manage a behind.
With the Roos continuing to put pressure the Lions back 6, Mitch Podhajski moved down back, taking multiple goal saving marks. A breakthrough came late in the quarter for the lions with Josh Weightman picking up a loose ball through the corridor, kicking inside 50 to Jack Murphy who streamed into an open goal extending the Lions lead to 9 points.
With only seconds to go, North managed to work back to trail by only 3 points, and with only seconds left a kick deep inside 50 led to a misguided marking attempt between 2 Coburg players. The ball split goalwards and was picked up and snapped with 30 seconds to go by Lewin Davis, utting North 3 points ahead and ultimately winning them the game.
The Lions had many positives to take from the game, but ultimately will see this as one that got away. Mitch Podhajski was influential with 4 goals, while Lochlan Dickson’s 30 possessions saw him play one of his finer games, generating run off half back as well as delivering a number of good balls inside 50 to Coburg’s forwards.
The Lions now look to next Saturday and a crucial clash with Port Melbourne at Adcon Stadium, as they continue to seek their third win of the season.
|North Melbourne||1.0||9.5.59||12.6||16.9 (105)|
Written by Ali Taleb, who is in his first year of his Bachelor of Business (Sports Management/Communications) degree at Latrobe University. The Coburg Football Club is in a position to offer opportunities as the one Ali has taken. They are committed to educating our next generation of football leaders.