Pirates Claim Back-To-Back-To-Back Flags
Uni Pirates 9.4.58 def North Beach 5.1.31
The Pirates have become the first side in D1 grade WAAFL/PFL history to go back-to-back-to-back with an excellent 27 point win over a stellar North Beach outfit at Wanneroo Showgrounds. The game was thoroughly engaging with both teams playing an intense brand of football that can only be described as compelling throughout the afternoon.
The Pirates had been eagerly awaiting this game since beating Fremantle CBC two weeks ago with the boys remarking that it was our best performance of the season. That game was won with run and carry and a cohesive defensive unit that has been stubborn the previous 5 games. These traits, coupled with a dangerous forward line, made us a very well-rounded unit. Both Uni and Beach have played this season in a similar style, and at the risk of oversimplifying what eventually ensued, it would come down to which side executed their game plan better on the day.
All week and what has become the mantra of this Pirate side was to “bring that smoke”. For those unfamiliar with this concept this is the idea of playing a relentless brand of football based on high pressure forcing the opposition into mistakes. This message coupled with Coach Day placing the game and the day in perspective made for a memorable pre-game speech with the boys taking that energy into the warmup.
The boys as they ran out were greeted by a chorus of boos from the Beach faithful who had a significant number of supporters present on the day. The anthems blared and what followed were final messages from skipper Matt Bailey and VC Andy Diamond who talked about how hard we had worked to get to this position and to embrace the challenge that lay ahead.
The first quarter Uni were kicking into the breeze, and were wary that Beach finished off exceptionally well against CBC the week prior. For the first 5 minutes or so the game was primarily stoppage based with both teams showing that initial hesitation to play their up-tempo brand, rather opting for longer down the line kicks. Eventually the game started opening up which led by the strong midfield of Sarge, Diamo, Super, Bails and Fossil enabled Uni to start building some early momentum. As called in the Pirate Podcast last week by one of the panellists it was Chaps who kicked the first goal using the breeze to bring it right to left. From there the Pirates added a couple goals and looked set to take a three goal lead however a mistake down back gave Beach a goal to give us a 12 point lead at the first break.
The second quarter, despite kicking with the breeze, proved more difficult to score with the ball spending a good amount of time in the Beach forward half. However, the backline led by Bando, Flemmo, JT and Hoady proved resistant not conceding a goal for the second quarter, a very impressive feat considering Beach was the second highest scoring team in D1 this year. Over the other parts of the ground the midfield continued to dig in for the contest and the forwards continued to present. The ever persistent Tommy C, Hoppo and Con epitomised the work rate the coaches have asked of their players. The Pirates kicked 2 in the quarter providing a 4 goal lead at the main break.
Half time came and went in a flash with both coaches not wanting the boys to change their approach and attitude towards the game. The intensity, tackling pressure and work rate was all evident throughout the first half, but it was warned Beach would come again similar to how they played the previous week. Accordingly, this is exactly what transpired with Beach kicking three goals for the quarter, and the ever raucous crowd getting right behind them. It felt like Beach were carrying all the momentum, and looked like Uni would be kept without a goal for the quarter. However, the ever mercurial and finals specialist Jordie Mayo came up with what can only be described as a moment of magic. Just outside the top of goal square, with his back to goal and under pressure from multiple Beach defenders a snap over his head gave the Pirates a crucial late goal to put them up by 13 going into the last.
At 3 quarter time the group spoke about weathering the Beach storm and the final quarter would be about executing under pressure. The quarter was an arm-wrestle with both teams swapping goals to start the term. However, from there the Pirates wrestled back momentum with Super and Diamo proving damaging in the midfield, Al Davies crashing into a massive pack, Nifty shutting down a dangerous Beach small forward, Chaz Mitchell and Ricey finding space on the wide Wanneroo ground, Flemmo with a passage of repeat efforts, Frenchy playing with a hurt wrist and Blackers coming to life. Blackers up to this point had been quiet through the first 3 quarters, however, he turned it on in the last kicking 2 goals and proving very dangerous against the Beach defenders.
Despite these efforts the moment most remembered from the quarter was Sarge’s goal. Sarge who had been a workhorse in the ruck all day found himself in space 50 out and taking the mark. With the breeze behind him and the entirety of the Uni Footy Club supporting him he has gone back and slotted it much to the delight of the players and supporters.
As the clock wore down a sense of excitement started building with the boys beginning to celebrate. As the final siren rang there was a true sense of pride amongst the coaches who recognised how difficult it had been to get to this position. Diamo was awarded the Norm playing a stellar role in the midfield, with the likes of Bando, Boekey and Coxxy all finding their way into the votes.
On reflection the boys played the game in a fashion befitting of Premiers and showed great will power few other groups possess. For a lot of the boys it was their first senior flag and goes to show the exciting young talent currently running around the club in the lower grades.
Before I wrap up I will pass on my commiserations to the Dings, Gulls and A-Colts. All three of those teams have had excellent seasons in their own right. In particular thanks to Erk and Roida who have been tireless in their efforts looking after the Dings this year, and have helped the Pirates get to where they are today. To the League and the Ressies amazing results on both fronts, very excited to get a chance to watch both units take it up to CBC and Beach respectively.
To the Pirates of 2019, it has been a truly special year for this group. To go from being undefeated to dropping three straight, to having to win 6 games in a row to win the premiership is truly something special. Contributors like Jimmy L, Cohen, Joe Dale, Timmy O, Ado Pearce are people who aren’t forgotten in successes like this and it was so great to see them celebrate with the rest of the group the entire night. Additionally, contributors aren’t just those people who play but they can be supporters, in this case Paulie Day. Paulie has been one of the pillars in the Pirates culture the last three years and his overall support for the boys does not go unnoticed. Speaking on behalf of the players, the jersey is only a small token of our appreciation and all your newfound sons truly love what you have brought to the side.
To wrap it up, it was a memorable day for the thirds and epitomised everything Coach Day and I have been wanting to build. You brought that smoke and created a big piece of history along the way, helping to lift the Pirates mast for another year.
Votes – Diamo (5); Bando (4); Chaps & Super (3); Sauce, Tommy C & Hoady (2); Nifty, Boekey, Coxxy & Mayo (1)
Goals – Chaps, Blackers & Mayo (2); Con, Tommy & Sarge (1)