Written by Alex Fitz Gerald
The Tasmania Mariners had their chances in a fast-paced game, but were unable to overcome the GWS Giants Academy in their second match of the academy series, going down by 11 points at North Hobart Oval on Saturday.
After their scheduled match against the Brisbane Lions academy last week was washed out, the Mariners hit the ground running against a Giants side full of talls, kicking 3.1.19 to 2.1.13 in the first quarter. All three of the Mariners’ goals came from set shots, with Zach Buechner, Hugh Dixon and James Brenner converting in a quarter where most of the contest took place in the home side’s attacking half of the ground.
The second quarter saw the Giants pull ahead, kicking four goals to the Mariners’ two, which came from the boots of Buechner again and captain Lachy Clifford. The Mariners took their chances in front of goal when presented with them, but the space for the leading forwards that was so open in the first quarter was flooded by the Giants midfielders, as as a result Tasmania went into the main break down 5.2.32 to 6.2.38
The Mariners’ defence was impressive in the third quarter, with Toby Cowen taking a number of strong intercept marks, and Jacob Hinds linking well with Ryan Tyrell to move the ball forward. Clifford slotted his second goal from a long bomb, and Harry Pearce worked hard to set up ruckman Tim Auckland for an easy snap, following up with a goal of his own minutes later. At three quarter time, Tasmania were behind 8.3.51 to 10.3.63, but pushing hard.
The final quarter saw the Mariners pull within a kick a number of times, before the Giants repeatedly responded with a follow up goal. Ben McGuinness snapped truly from the boundary early, and when Dixon kicked his second from a set shot the Mariners were within a point. Clifford managed to kick his third from a checkside snap, and Buechner gave the Mariners one last chance at victory with a 60 metre goal, but in the end the GWS Academy side outlasted the hosts to win 14.4.88 to 12.5.77.
Coach Lance Spaulding was proud of the Mariners’ efforts, but lamented the poor disposal going forward at times that led to turnovers and saw the Giants finish with a much higher possession count. 15 Tasmanian players also finished with under 10 disposals, which was highlighted after the game, but Spaulding urged his side to turn the disappointment at the result into motivation for the match against the Gold Coast Academy on April 29.
The Mariners were well served by Clifford, who ran hard through the midfield and finished his work with 3 goals. Bueschner also finished with 3, and alongside Dixon, provided a mobile target up forward all game. Ryan Tyrell and Toby Cowen were outstanding in defence, and Harrison Pearce had a solid game at both ends of the field. Tim Auckland rucked well against the GWS talls, and inclusions James Brenner and Harrison Gunther did their best to fill the gap left by Tarryn Thomas and Chayce Jones, who both missed the match due to selection in the AFL Academy match in Melbourne.
Tasmania 3.1 5.2 8.3 12.5.77
GWS Giants 2.1 6.2 10.3 14.4.88
Goals: L Clifford 3 Z Buechner 3 H Dixon 2 J Brenner 1 HPearce 1 B McGuinness 1 T Auckland 1
Best: L Clifford, R Tyrrell, T Auckland, J Williams, Z Buechner, T Cowen