It’s Raining in Dees’ Hearts

May 26, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 10 – Yartapuuti V Narrm

Liam Chambers

There are a handful of sides you don’t want to play on their home turf. Brisbane and Geelong obviously but Port Adelaide (Yartapuuti) at the Oval can be formidable. Maybe not as scary as the Eagles in Perth pre covid but intimidating nonetheless. Factor in six wins in a row for Port and the Demons knew they would need to at their best going in. Oh yeah and don’t forget the tsunami conditions (bit of poetic licence there).

It started well when Narrm were gifted a 50m penalty after Max Gawn was restricted in attempting to run to the goal square. Kade Chandler was the beneficiary, and he kicked the goal from 10m in front. The Power’s reply was swift when Sam Powell-Pepper kicked the ball over his shoulder, a metre from the goal line, to balance the ledger.

The rain started pouring down in the latter part of the term, making conditions difficult. The players were slip sliding in all directions, making marking or even picking up the sherrin an exercise in frustration. Port had the better of the play but couldn’t make it pay on the scoreboard. Then with two minutes to go, Jeremy Finlayson was able to take advantage of the loose bouncing ball, tapping it in from 15m.

Trailing by one goal at quarter time would have been acceptable to the Demons considering how many opportunities the opposition had squandered. Unfortunately, with thirty seconds to go, Jason Horne-Francis was awarded a free kick. He booted his 40m set shot after the siren and Port was twelve points in front.

With Yartapuuti playing so well, they would have preferred to be ahead by more but had the game under their control. Narrm on the other hand needed to raise their game if they were to be competitive. Regrettably, the Dees didn’t get the start they were looking for. With less than thirty seconds played in the term, Ryan Burton took a contested mark 20m to the left of goal. He converted to push his team’s lead out to eighteen points.

Another centre clearance win and Narrm’s defence was really feeling the pressure. Fortunately, the Power couldn’t make the most of their chances, keeping the margin within the Dees’ reach.
Narrm was being held captive in their own defensive half and, more often than not, in their defensive 50. Even when they managed to break out, they were quickly corralled back. Still, they managed to valiantly hold off the marauding hordes.

Port finally broke through however, when Dan Houston took a hand pass and was able to launch from 45m and increase the lead to twenty five points. Then with everything seemingly going Yartapuuti’s way, the Dees got a pressure relieving break when Bailey Fritsch marked a beautifully placed kick from Charlie Spargo. Fritsch executed the 30m set shot perfectly to give Narrm their first goal since early in the first quarter.

Both sets of fans looked on in disbelief as Port continued to waste set shots in front of goal. They were playing some great footy, controlling and winning contested balls plus clearances but couldn’t dominate on the scoreboard.

Against the run of play, the Dees got consecutive goals when Fritsch marked again and went back to kick his 50m set shot. Narrm had a fair amount of luck in the term and with thirty seconds to go in the half, the angels looked to be on the side of the Demons as Darcy Byrne-Jones (what is it with Port and double barrelled names?) hit the upright with a relatively easy set shot.

Again it was the worst of starts for Narrm after running on for the third quarter. Ollie Lord marked the ball 10m from goal. Just to add to the misery, the rain started to pour down again. The outlook was grim on all fronts.

Then, Tom McDonald announced his comeback by taking a contested mark on his chest, directly in front of goal. His conversion was accurate, giving the Dees some much needed breathing space.
Just as Narrm was having their best spell of the game, the villain of the piece Zac Butters took a mark inside 50. His set shot from 50m sailed through, dampening the spirits of the Demon faithful.

All was not lost though as Christian Petracca was able to gather the slippery sherrin in horrendous conditions and snap it off the outside of his boot. The margin was back to fifteen. Narrm then got consecutive goals for the second time on the night when Kade Chandler’s kick found Jacob van Rooyen a mere 10m to the left of the square. The tables appeared to have turned in the Dees’ favour.

As if to emphasis the change in fortunes, Kysaiah Pickett marked the ball 40m from home. He didn’t wait to set up his shot but instead quickly turned and kicked to bring Narrm with one point of Port. A minute later and Charlie Spargo turned and snapped from 20m to give the Dees a five point advantage. With just over three minutes remaining in the quarter, Lachie Hunter managed to control the bouncing ball in the pouring rain and from an impossible angle somehow booted it through the uprights.

It was just over a minute later when Brodie Grundy was held off the mark and awarded a free kick 35m from goal. He converted to stretch the lead to seventeen points; an incredible thirty eight point turnaround from earlier in the term. Under perfect circumstances, it would have stayed at that, but the ubiquitous Zac Butters was able to drag it back to eleven with his 50m set shot after the siren. If only…

While the rain continued to fall, the intensity continued to rise. Port piled on the pressure in a desperate attempt to win back the ascendency. Then disaster, when van Rooyen was pinged for retaliating against Jeremy Finlayson. It’s one of the cruel ironies of life; the put upon get rapped when they strike back. Finlayson made the most of his set shot and reduced the margin to four points.

After their almost complete dominance in the third quarter, the Dees were once again being held in their own half by Yartapuuti. Once again though Port struggled to land the knockout punch, only racking up some minor scores, but steadily tightening the gap. Then Ollie Lord took a diving mark 10m to the left of goal. He took his time before cleanly kicking around the corner to give Port back the lead.

However the Demons still had something left in the tank, and when Tom McDonald took a mark inside 50 from a Petracca kick, the fans collectively willed him to score. T Mac didn’t disappoint, splitting the middle with his 45m kick. Kade Chandler had a chance to extend the lead but his running banana kick from the pocket just skimmed the outside of the post.

The lead changed hands again when Connor Rozee was able to snap a goal from just outside the square landing on his back as the ball sailed through. It was again a four point game; this time with Narrm chasing. The stakes couldn’t be higher with players on both sides giving their all in an attempt to land the winning goal.

In the end Yartapuuti hung on for a narrow win and Narrm was left to wonder what could have been. Simon Goodwin said afterwards that the loss will help them grow as a side and that’s positive.

I think we still haven’t quite got back to that overwhelming team spirit that we showed week in week out in 2021 but we’re getting there.

Go the Mighty Narrm!!!


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