ORFFA Round 17 Review
So here we are at the end of yet another ORFFA regular season – our seventh! Where on earth did the time go? And it’s fitting that we concluded the home and away fixture with Fellowship Round and raised a glass in honour of this wonderfully eclectic group of ORFFANs.
And, most importantly, we entered the final round with so much still at stake, with six games having the potential to shape both the make-up of the eight and the all-important top four. In the end, five teams finished on the same number of wins, with only three making the finals. Let’s have a look at how it all unfolded. (spoiler alert – good luck to those picking an opponent this week!)
Wagga Wagga Wombats 1144 def by Larrikin Lagoon Lefties 1199
With a slim chance to garner another number 1 pick, the Lefties coach insisted that he could only find 13 and a half players to send out on the field. The attempted tank job backfired spectacularly, however, with Ross (158), Brayshaw (115), Dumont (132) and Berry (106) all flipping the bird to the coach as the ‘Goon posted their third win of the year and headed off to Mad Monday celebrations in high spirits.
As for the Wombats, four scores under 50 – including a craptactular 15 from O’Brien – ensured the off season will be a long one in Wagga. On a positive note, Wagga fans were delighted to see Brodie Smith (49) return to action after his serious knee injury. The Wombats list management will be a fascinating watch in the offseason as they continue to build around young gun Clayton Oliver (147).
Lovely Banks Lilacs 1015 def by Mount Beauty Uglies 1256
Some nervous moments for Uglies fans who were counting on the Lilacs solid recent form to help them wrap up the coveted number 1 pick, but instead they got the best of both worlds – a win and the number 1 pick. Fans were also left with a wondering “where the hell has that been all year?” as Salem (149), Gawn (112) and Petracca (110) took full advantage of the Demons demolition of the Suns. Even Dusty (111) was able to pry his thoughts from another off season full of Las Vegas benders to finish the year in style.
No tanking on the cards for Coach Jen, who implored her charges to finish the season with another win and some momentum heading into next year. Early injuries to both Moore (2) and 2 metre Peter (15) cruelled any hopes of a win, while Bews (22) asked someone to pop his shoulder out late in the piece in a vain attempt to explain his meagre output. So a disappointing finish for Jen’s boys, but there was plenty to like about the Lilacs this year and their fans should be optimistic heading into next season.
Nareewillock Nuffers 983 def by Wineglass Bay Packers 1120
The Packers and the Nuffers were kind enough to trial a 14-a-side variant of the ‘FA as part of the broad suite of possible rule changes. The scores suggest that the idea may need some tweaking, if not scrapping all together. But a positive finish to the year for the Packers with Mundy (116) and Sloane (111) reliable as ever, while Coach Tracey must be hoping that Majak (92) retains both his ruck status and his late season form heading into next year.
Other than Brad Hill (105), it was just a whole lot of ‘meh’ for Nuffers, who suffered through subpar nights from veterans Simpson (81), JPK (75) and Dixon (52). The Nuffers are another side that will be an interesting watch in the offseason as new coach TTH looks to put his stamp on this team. If the mid-season trade period was anything to go by, we can expect plenty of activity in Nareewillock!
Foul Bay Chickens 1283 def by Waikikamoocow Incorrigibles 1357
The Chooks superior ‘points for’ had assured them of a finals birth, despite being tied on points with 7th and 8th, but there was also a slight chance of a top 4 finish if results went their way. Usual suspects Selwood (159), Danger (132) and Kelly (112) did their best to lift the Chooks, but CR will need to get a bit more from his forward line if the Chooks are going to seriously challenge for the flag.
The game had little meaning for the Cows, other than a finals tune up, as they would finish second regardless of the outcome. However, Titch (153), Menegola (144), Dunkley (132) and Robbo (120) all went past 120 and made sure that complacency would not be an issue for the Cows, who have set themselves up nicely for another tilt at the flag.
Gundagai Grasshoppers 1308 def by Gariwerd Cockatoos 1314
This loomed as a genuine top four shaping encounter and it didn’t disappoint as the Cockies got home in a nail biter against the ‘Hoppers. The ‘Hoppers midfield unit easily took the points against the Cockies mids, with Grundy (167), Cripps (122), Neale (120) and Adams (107) all dominant. Only Crouch (127) offered much resistance for the Cockies. But the Cockies overcame their midfield issues and won the battle at both ends of the ground to even up the contest. The Cockies forward line was particularly dominant and Jenkins (114), Lambert (113) and Wingard (105) dined out on a ‘Hoppers defence that averaged less than 40. In the end, Rayner’s (44) miss may have cost more than just the Lions a win.
The end result made no difference to the Hoppers who held on to 3rd spot, while the Cockies win gave them a top 4 finish.
Darraweit Guim Dirigibles 1310 def by Venus Bay Vultures 1397
A good win in a high quality contest sees the Vultures finish the regular season undefeated. So congratulations to Fitzy and his boys for an outstanding season to date. Fair to say it may have come at a cost, though. Greene’s (18) injury-plagued season continues, while we won’t see Andrew Gaff (123) again this ORFFA season after he decided to start the offseason early. On the plus side, Fitzy would be delighted to see Buddy (178) find some form heading into the finals.
The Blimps, meanwhile, were desperately hoping to avoid a Hindenburg-style ending to their season and cling on to a spot in the eight, but it wasn’t to be. No shame in losing with a score of 1310, though, and the performances of Aliir (101) and first gamer Abbot (100) would have pleased the coach. Coniglio (157) had a monster game to cap an already impressive season.
Birdsville Battlers 999 def by Charlies Opening Spelunkers 1154
Win against the tankers and the Battlers would play finals. Instead, another substandard performance from the Birdsville boys ensured that the last spot would go to a worthy finalist instead of a side limping home and desperately needing the season to end. Doedee (112) finished the year strongly, while McKay (98) decided to pull his finger out with list management meetings on the horizon.
Not exactly a performance for the ages form Bandit’s troops, but Bont (100), Zerrett (116), Atkins (111) and Blicavs (121) pretty much just played kick to kick as the Spelunkers midfield dominated the undermanned Battlers. Coach Bandit was heard to say that he was just relieved that this didn’t impact his draft position, then told all and sundry to get stuffed before he disappeared into the cave not to be seen again until next season.
Cradle Mountain Devils 1307 def Whitsunday Warriors 1216
Needing a win to have any chance of a place in the finals, the Devils continued their excellent post-bye form and accounted for a competitive Warriors outfit. Strong outings from The Great Zorko (142) and Redden (137), and one from out of nowhere from Himmelberg (110) made sure the Devils resurgence was not in vain. Probably the most consistent team since the bye, the Devils provide another perilous option for those picking an opponent this week.
Must’ve been a bit awkward at Warriors training this week with Jeremy ‘Thug’ Cameron finally reunited with Harris Andrews after knocking him out cold a few weeks ago. JJ (156) was allowed to run around on his own all night, but with only Harmes (114) and Polec (101) offering assistance, the Warriors just didn’t have the firepower against the in form Devils. Another season of close, but not quite, for the Warriors.
Iron Knob Codpieces 1133 def by Marble Bar Misfits 1471
And we finish with a game that had both top eight and top four implications. A win for the Knobs would see them guaranteed a top four birth, while a win for the Misfits might see them sneak into a finals position. Well, no sneaking required for the Misfits who rode the orange tsunami (and I’m sure Len’s had dreams about that before ) all the way to the finals. Josh Kelly bought his own footy on the way to a ridiculous 205, as he, Ward, Murphy and Whitfield combined for a midfield total of 600.
A ruck donut was, unfortunately, a sign of things to come for Jimbo. Macrae (121) battled hard and Gray (99) was solid, but there were just too many average scores for the Codpieces in the face of the onslaught from the Misfits. The result means Jimbo and his boys are fair game for anyone in the top 4 brave enough to pick them as an opponent – and they still have plenty of potential to go big.
So there you have it, ladies and gents, another regular season done and dusted and a fascinating finals series on the horizon. Good luck to all of the finalists this weekend.