Cubs no more as Tigers roar

Written by Alex Fitzgerald

Tigers FC brushed aside any concerns regarding off-field dramas with a hard-fought 23 point win over Burnie in blustery conditions on the first Saturday match of the season, at Twin Ovals.

The two young sides displayed clean skills despite the weather in what was a tight, physical contest up until half-time, before the Tigers booted seven goals in the second half to run out 11.10.71 to 6.12.48 victors.

The speed of the game in the first quarter was noticeable, with new Tiger Mitchell Carter racking up intercept marks across half back and driving the ball forward. It looked like the term would be a goalless one until Brandon Batchelor kicked two quick majors to see the Tigers leading 2.5.17 to 0.3.3 at the first break.

The Dockers lifted in the second quarter off the back of two Nick McKenna goals to go into the main change trailing 3.7.25 to 4.7.31, which pleased coach Clint Proctor.

“We were surging to match the pace of the Tigers and players were accountable,” he said of the Dockers’ first half.

Aaron Vince, a fortnight into the role of Tigers’ coach after the sensational sacking of Scott Matheson, urged his players to play ‘their style’ of football at the half-time address, and to bring the physicality and pace back into the game.

The third quarter saw the Tigers respond, intercepting the Dockers’ forward thrusts and running the ball well out of the backline to hit targets up forward.  They booted 4.2 for the term and kept the frustrated Dockers scoreless, taking a handy 22 point lead into the final term.

Kicking with the wind, Burnie had opportunities to narrow the margin, but were wasteful at times up forward, kicking 3.5 for the quarter.  The home side maintained their run and carry throughout the final term to kick a stingy 3.1, and to ensure a 23 point advantage when the final siren pierced the wind.

When asked about the youth of the Tigers’ side, Vince said he hoped his side had graduated.

“We wanted to shrug the ‘cubs’ tag, we’re Tigers now.”

Younger players did indeed prove they were Tigers in what was a physical game included Lachy Clifford, Jack Bilson, and a host of other Tassie Mariners in the side.  Cameron Johns was a solid contributor in his first game for the club, and he was supported in defence by Ashley Humphrey, who battled manfully against Burnie captain Nick McKenna.  VFL recruit and former Carlton-listed player Carter was a class above at half back, setting up many Tigers possession chains with his clean disposal, and Marcus Davies had plenty of the football in his return from injury.

Brandon Batchelor finished with four majors, and could have had more if luck had gone his way, whilst being well supported by Mitch Walker, who kicked two.

Proctor was proud of the efforts of his young players in what was a first senior game for many.

“They all put their heads over the footy and I was proud to be playing alongside them.

“Our list last year was the oldest in the competition, and this season we will be focusing on development of the young guys coming through.”

Blair Rubock was a standout in just his fourth senior TSL game, having plenty of the ball in the midfield early, and Nick McKenna was a handful up forward and down back, finishing with three goals.  Proctor had a strong second half, as did Nick and Harry Walters with a goal apiece, and ruckman Tyrone Morrison toiled all day long in the ruck.  Blair Challis and new Docker Jamieson House both stood up in key moments, and undoubtedly the young Dockers will be better for the run.

The Dockers have a long month on the road ahead, with matches against Launceston and coastal rivals Devonport, with the latter opponent proving to be an even match for Burnie regardless of ladder position over the past few seasons.

The Tigers face Clarence next week, before playing southern rivals Hobart City and last year’s Premiers Glenorchy on Anzac Day.  Vince and assistant coach Brad Willis are taking one week at a time, with a focus on being competitive in every game.  If round one is anything to go by, the tight knit Tigers are set to regain some roar in season 2017.

Round 1 – 01/04/2017

Tigers                                  2.5,  4.7,  8.9,  10.11  (71)

Burnie Dockers                          0.3,  3.7,  3.7,  6.12  (48)

GOALS, Tigers :
B. Batchelor 4, M. Walker 2, B. Livingston 1, M. Brouwer 1, J. Pearce 1, J. Bilson 1

Burnie Dockers :
N. McKenna 3, H. Walters 1, N. Walters 1, T. Mundy 1

BEST, Tigers :
C. Johns, B. Batchelor, A. Humphrey, M. Carter, M. Davies, M. Walker

Burnie Dockers :
N. Walters, N. McKenna, T. Mundy, H. Walters, J. House, E. Jackson