It was a wind-swept ANZAC Day game against a most-determined opponent, but the sheer grit of an emerging midfield trio delivered Glenorchy their fourth-straight win – by 22 points over the Tigers – to open the Centennial season.
A constant and fluky north-westerly wind stripped the game of any aesthetic appeal, and that meant both teams had to roll up the sleeves and get the job done the hard way.
It was John Geard, James Webb and Ben Kamaric who answered that call the loudest, combining for 83 possessions, 38 tackles and 29 clearances to give the Magpies a crucial +17 edge at stoppages and 52-37 advantage in inside 50s.
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Those stats would prove vital, particularly after half-time, allowing the home team to dominate territory on the wide expanses of KGV.
“Geardy, Jimma and Disco were outstanding,” coach Paul Kennedy said.
“We knew the Tigers’ midfield is first class and the key to the game, and that trio really stood up with their hardness at the ball, their pressure on the oppo and their willingness to gut run to the contest.
“We had to be the team that worked hardest to the contest because there was going to be lots of spillage on a day like today, and those three along with Cam Duffy, Brayden Webb, Rhys Mott and Ryan Banks-Smith made sure we got plenty of forward momentum.”
Once inside 50 it was a tough ask for the forwards with delivery hampered by the unpredictable gale, but on a good day for crumbers Callen Daly was the most impactful forward on the ground, booting three majors and having a hand in multiple other scores.
Aiden Grace was also a contributor with two goals in an absorbing battle with Tigers youngster Will Poland, while Adam Roberts’ pressure game was critical in locking the ball in Glenorchy’s half.
When the Kingborough defenders – led ably by veteran Marcus Davies – did manage to transition the ball, they usually ran into the awesome foursome of Jaye Bowden, Josh Arnold, Harrison Gunther and Liam Smith, who patrolled half-back with aplomb.
The Magpies defence has allowed just 188 points in four games, picking up where they left off in 2018 despite the loss of Daniel Joseph to injury and the move of Team of the Year full-back Josh Grant to the forward line.
Another man who put his stamp on the day was underrated defender Chris McKnight, who celebrated his 100th game for the club with a typically fearless act.
'Macca' has won over teammates and fans alike with his hardness and selflessness over a number of years, and that toughness was embodied in one courageous act in the first quarter which set the tone for the day.
With Kingbourough opening up the game with speed from their defensive 50, McKnight peeled off his man and ran fearlessly into the contest, injuring himself in a kamikaze attack on the man that forced the ball to spray out of bounds and saved what looked a certain goal.
"That act just summed up the man that Macca is," Kennedy said.
"He's not fashionable in the way he plays his footy, but he is completely selfless and all about the team. He put his body on the line, copped a big hit and injured himself, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"He got back on the ground and did a really solid job for us for the next three quarters."
In what was a gutsy team effort, it was Geard who claimed the ANZAC Day medal thanks to his clearance work, which was one of the decisive factors in the game.
James Webb came second in the voting for a complete game that featured his usual elite running coupled with a courageous hard-ball performance fitting for a day when Australia honoured the bravery of its Diggers.
Ben Kamaric was his usual tireless self around the contest and around the ground, getting plenty of the Sherrin and constantly providing run and link in the Magpies’ ball movement chains.
Just as importantly, ‘Disco’ led the intense pressure effort on Tigers star Keiran Lovell, ensuring the former Hawk’s impressive, hard-working game was not the match-winning performance it potentially could have been.
"To achieve the win was fantastic, but immediately after we talked about the meaning of ANZAC Day and put the game into perspective," Kennedy said.
"Those conditions were horrible for football, but we spoke about the Diggers, and those from all other countries and wars, and what it was like for them having to survive and fight in conditions worse than that day in, day out.
"We give thanks to the ANZACs and their allies who sacrificed so much so we can have it so good."
Glenorchy now sit 4-0, but face the sternest test of their season to date next Saturday evening (5.30pm at UTAS Stadium) against two-time defending premiers North Launceston.
Glenorchy 9.10.64 d Tigers 6.6.42
Goals: Daly 3, Grace 2, Banks-Smith, Bowden, Oakley, Roberts
Best: Geard, J Webb, Kamaric, Bowden, Daly, Smith, Banks-Smith, Grace