Nashville Kangaroos 12-2 but have work to do before Nationals
The Austin Crows are becoming a progressively stronger force in the United States Australian Football League (USAFL). The Aussie Rules movement has been growing in Austin, TX since 2007 and is now represented by over 40 players. The Crows enjoyed an excellent 2010 season, including defeating our own Nashville Kangaroos in Austin and winning the 2010 Divison 3 USAFL National Championship. Although Nashville Kangaroos defeated Austin Crows 20.13 (133) to 10.7 (67) in Nashville last year, the Austin Crows kicked on with three wins in Division II of the 2011 USAFL Nationals.
The Dallas Magpies were Division 2 National Champions in 2011 and are certainly a Division 1 contender this year.
On September 15, the Kangaroo traveled to Austin TX to play the Austin Crows and Dallas Magpies in preparation for the 2012 USAFL National Tournament. Most players arrived late the night before and there was some concern about being completely ready to play at 9 AM, but that concern was soon answered as the Kangaroos won early center clearances and kept the ball in their scoring half for almost the entire first half. Nashville did not consistently execute on opportunities, and the end of the half found Nashville up by only a couple of goals, 2.4 (15) to Austin 0.1 (1).
The Crows kept their poise and started the second half in a very competitive way, quickly scoring their first goal. Nashville’s two goal scorers from the first half combined to respond with a Roo goal, Chris “Dex” Neilson passing to Clint Milner, who marked to kick a long and accurate set shot. The Nashville inaccuracy continued with three more behinds before a spectacular contested mark by “Sugar” Kane Harrison created the opportunity for Rob Drysdale to soccer a goal off the ground. Finally, a clean passage of play led to another Milner goal and the Kangaroos had responded to a second half challenge by Austin to increase their lead to 22 points as time expired.Final score:
Austin Crows 2.3 (15)
Nashville Kangaroos 5.7 (37)
Nashville: Clint Milner 3, Chris Neilson, Rob Drysdale.
After watching the Dallas Magpies convincingly defeat the Austin Crows, the Nashville Kangaroos were excited to play the classy Magpies. The game started well for the Roos when Dave Walker goaled early, but the Magpies were equal to the task. After a Dallas behind, the ball was regained by Dallas on the kickout, resulting in a Dallas goal and a slight Magpie lead. Nashville achieved the same outcome at the other end when Milner marked a Dallas kickout and passed to Damian “Damo” Serong for Serong’s first goal. Serong goaled again to give the Kangaroos some breathing room, but the Roos again did not maximize their plentiful opportunities. The first half ended with Nashville holding a nine point lead, 3.5 (23) to 2.2 (14).
What looked like a dominant defense on paper did not knit for the Nashville Kangaroos, and the Magpies kicked three of the first four goals in the second half. Milner received a handpass from Serong and goaled early in the quarter. Late in the quarter, Luke Nemeth received a long pass from Walker and goaled to return Nashville to a four point lead, but the Magpies kicked a goal to regain the lead with seconds to spare. In a final burst, Mischa Nemeth won the ball from the center contest and passed to Harrison. All spectators were on the edge of their seats, but time expired before the Kangaroos could take the ball within scoring range.Final score:
Dallas Magpies 6.3 (39)
Nashville Kangaroos 5.6 (36)
Nashville: Damian Serong 2, David Walker, Clint Milner, Luke Nemeth.
Despite the loss to Dallas, this was a strong showing by the Nashville Kangaroos considering the travel and being unaccustomed to the 9 AM start. However, the USAFL National Tournament will also require travel and early games on both days. Also, players struggled in several key areas, including goal kicking and positional changes. Although fitness has been a key component of training, the decline in the last twenty minutes must leave additional questions in the minds of the coaching staff. The Texas trip was very instructive, and the last few weeks before Nationals provide opportunity to apply the lessons the Nashville Kangaroos learned.