The last three days of our week in Vienna were like a synopsis of the story of our week - a mix of the excellent and the frustrating. At some points were gelled and were unstoppable and at other times we lacked intensity, looked tired and succumbed to teams no stronger than us.
the Big EZ
The Big EZ hail from Vienna and are a team based around physicality, both on the mark and around the field, and aerial aggression. They were relatively unpredictable and had a decent, but not spectacular zone. We started slowly - an Achilles heel we were more than aware of - conceding a few points in a row with the offence not on form. There a few calls, a few cynical fouls and the atmosphere wasn't a particularly pleasant one. We clawed back into the game, losing a turnover-ridden point to concede half but then faded away. Again, a very disappointing result that hurt us. We'd worked hard and come away with nothing. Heads were down.
MVPs - Kev Timoney who got some big Ds and played assuredly when the rest of us lost it.
- David McAlester scored a load of points and didn't run over - an asset to a misfiring offence!
The first of our two UK battles and one that meant a lot to us given the 2 defeats we'd been handed by the EMO boys on Tour. The difference in this game was that all 14 of us played the best defence we'd produced to date. We fronted the handlers and shut down long threats and whent he pressure came on perhaps their lack of team-ness caused them to crack. That said, they were brimming with talent and experience but we beaten by a team who wanted it more, worked harder and most importantly, shut the game out in style winning 4 D points on a row.
MVP - Mark Earley - lots of assists, few turns and some big forces causing turns allowed me sneak an MVP vote by a single vote.
An Aussie outfit who had played little together, picked up a few players and were enjoying the trip Europe in every sense, the Redbacks had lost every game before meeting us and we weren't going to let them scalp us. We spoke about a strong opening half and we got it after the usual gentle start. The O line had ample space to put away all their goals and once the D line got going we won well. We leaked a few at the end of the game to put a slight gloss on the score from their point of view but a 7 point win was enjoyable all the same.
MVP - Kev Timoney - another display of good hands and simple throws. Brilliant on offence especially.
Fire Of London
We knew going on to the pitch that we were facing a team who had set their sights on much higher a finish than they achieved. They'd lost a couple of tight games against higher seeded teams and weren't happy about it. We'd played FoL 2 at Tour and won with ease but this was a different kettle of fish altogether. We started well and some smooth offence and feisty D got us fired up. Then came a 3 point swing which we worried might let them take the game from us but we replied and went in at half a point to the good. Nialler stirred the troops with some great battling words at half and we came out refreshed and determined. The heat was tough but we kept calm and won out by 3 points (I think) to record a great victory that we'll remember for some time.
MVP - Derryk Boyd - fired up, concentrated and all over the pitch (well, his face was anyway), Gags had a huge game when we needed big players to stand up and be counted.
Revenge was the word on everyone's minds. We were fired up and they looked tired. From the opening 5 or 6 points it seemed to me like there was only going to be one winner and there was. The 1 point loss earlier in the week had really hurt us and despite losing a couple of players to injury (including Super who turned his ankle walking down some steps) we played well, getting turns with a strong front up and converting our offence despite having to mix the lines. A 6 or 7 point victory was just reward for a strong display. The tanks were close to empty though and the heat was relentless...
MVP - Enda Naughton - Reliable all week long, Enda was full of energy when we were all wilting. Got some huge grabs and threw a load of point winning passes.
Everything went wrong in our last game of the week - we lost players before the warm up, we warmed up late and without intensity, we lost Perfect to a nasty clash of heads in the first few points and we suffered in the heat. Not to take away from a purposeful, hard-working and hard-running Cambo Cakes performance but I dont think we turned up at all. We fought, we huffed and we puffed, but we never really got any sort of a foothold in the game. Throws were overthrown, catches were dropped at chest height and we chased instead of anticipated.On a personal level, I found it really hard to finish the week like this. It wasn't anyone's fault - we were 14 players reduced to 10 by the end of the game! - and were playing a well drilled team with more than 20 players. It just hurt. We'll play them again next year no doubt, and if I'm there, this loss will be in the front of my mind stepping on to the pitch.
MVP - Podge who played brilliantly when we all crumbled around him. A rock on D and calm on O.