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A Historic Win For The Tigers


After months of grey skies and rainy days the Tigers journeyed up to Glasgow yesterday for  our AFL Scotland Season 2024 opening match against our old foes the Glasgow Sharks, and – lo and behold – the sky was blue, and the sun was shining.


But - even though the weather was glorious and the teams were eager to resume our competitive rivalry - there was an element of sadness to the day, as both teams stood silently for two minutes before the game commenced to pay our respects to Adam Jack (Head Coach of the Glasgow Sharks for many years) and Ross McGhie (a member of the Kingdom Kangaroos club), both of whom have recently passed away in tragically unexpected circumstances. 


Everyone at the Tigers extends their deepest sympathies to the friends and families of those two men.


And now turning to the game itself…


The Tigers have never previously managed a win against the Sharks up in Glasgow (our closest result was a draw in this corresponding round in 2022), but yesterday we finally broke through and ran out 13 point victors ( 15.13.103 to 12.18.90) in a tough physical contest. 


And it’s not drawing too long a bow to connect the dots between our last game against the Sharks in August 2023 (in which they overran us in the last quarter to post a 16 point victory and bundle us out of the 2023 Finals Series) and this game, because even though we lost that game last year there were already signs of the burgeoning playing depth within our club and the spread of effort we are trying to bring to our onfield play.


That improving spread of effort was definitely on display again yesterday, and that is what earned us our historic first ‘away’ win against the Sharks. 


The guys who always ‘show up’ (Roy Brannigan, Ben Hawtin, David Hodgson and co.) did so again yesterday, but it was newer faces that made the difference. 


Paddy Blain and Nick Hrdina played with a controlled and creative intensity all day, Andy Ellwood  competed well against bigger bodied opponents when called upon to help out veteran Col Donaghy in the ruck, and Josh Tambakis – returning to the side after a number of years absence – made a number of crucial defensive efforts that thwarted Shark attacks.


Add to that the improved running ability, game sense and general ‘bounce’ that second year players such as Zach Haddon, Adam Trewick and ‘Yoda’ Kawase (whose efforts had him right up there in the running for Best on Ground) are adding to the club and it’s not hard to see why coach Chris Rodger enjoyed his beer on the bus ride home.


But perhaps the most telling accolade for the day should go to our trimmed down veteran ruck man warrior Col Donaghy, who – after needing to manage his preseason – ran out for his 60th game yesterday. He’s been a great servant of the club for many years, but two key pieces of play yesterday really highlighted that fact:


In the first, key Sharks playmaker Daniel Hespe was in full ‘attack’ mode. He’d already broken through two tackles and was running strongly towards his forward line when confronted by the looming presence of Col, ready to lay the tackle that would stop the threat in its tracks. Hespe saw the danger and had to back track because he knew he wasn’t getting through Col, and the immediate threat to the Tigers was averted.


In the second, in the last minutes of the game, the Sharks saw an opportunity to score quickly from a centre bounce ruck mismatch. They were immediately successful, kicking a quick goal to reduce the Tigers slim lead, and were all set to do it again, except for the fact that there was Col, moving quickly back in to the centre square ruck duel to deny the Sharks any further opportunity to score quickly in that way.


Those two pieces of play were just parts of a fantastic contest between the two clubs, and it was all great fun to watch.


But, admittedly, it was also all just the opening game of the season, and there’s lots more work to do.


Nonetheless, the Tigers are on the prowl, and we're hungry!


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