The Glasgow Sharks swam into Saturday’s encounter looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2018 domestic campaign. After a tough season opener at GHA which saw the Blue and the White come out on top, it was time for the Sharks to travel to Nethercraigs Sports Complex for the away fixture against reigning Premiers, The Greater Glasgow Giants.
With conditions more akin to Western Australia than the West of Scotland it was clear that the Sharks turned up to play footy, not work on their tan.
The collective intent of the visitors was clear from the first ball up to the last with excellent ruck work from John McIntyre and Alex Young. At times rising early into the contest, winning the tap, and at others making good use of body and space, this gave the Sharks midfield first possession of the ball more often than not. This was a tactic which would prove lethal throughout the course of the game with seamless rotation between McIntyre and Young and the use of differing rucking styles confusing their opposite numbers to devastating effect.
The midfield combination of Hancock and Hespe began strongly and linked together beautifully with intricate handball play before delivering 5-star, silver service to the forward line which was not wasted by Dolling, McManus and Wolfenden. A ten goal first quarter serving as proof that the ‘perennial slow starters’ moniker given to the Sharks may be close to expiry.
Giants 13 – 66 Sharks
With confidence sky high as faith in the game plan grew, the Sharks began the second quarter as they ended the first, with intent!
Quality delivery into the path of quality leads from forward players led to the scoreboard ticking over frequently 6 points at a time. Dolling and Wolfenden embarking on a tit-for-tat goal scoring contest between themselves.
While the Giants tried in vain to penetrate a miserly Sharks defence bolstered by full back Bruce McLintock and marauding half back Derek Smith, it was Lewis Collett, in his breakout season, who shone brightest. Impressive performances in previous rounds have seen him demand more and more game time and his attitude was no different here. Particularly of note being his ability to make repeated efforts and a mentality which suggests he believes he is never out of the contest. Without doubt such enthusiasm will not go unnoticed and will certainly prove a headache for coach Stephen Connor in upcoming selections.
Midway through the 2nd quarter the game came to a halt as Giants Forward Michael Douglas went down with a serious injury. Thankfully between supporters and volunteers at the match there was a sufficient amount of expertise on hand to care for Michael until an ambulance arrived to escort him to hospital. Early reports are that Michael suffered a concussion and bruising to the spine but has been discharged from hospital to recover at home. The Glasgow Sharks would like to thank all those in attendance for their help and selflessness under these circumstances and we wish Michael a swift and full recovery.
Giants 28 – Sharks 105
With an expanded league and the potential for percentage to be a factor in determining the final standings the Sharks’ focus during the break was on maintaining intensity until the final whistle. With narrow defeats to the Giants in recent matches lingering in the memory, it didn’t take much of a team talk to keep the Sharks hungry for victory. Hungry for the ball and hungry for the contest was Phil Daly who broke from half back, through midfield and into the forward line repeatedly to set up easy set shots for Dolling.
Adopting more of a free role after the major break Brett Wolfenden took a grip of the game and showed his experience with excellent roving and retrieval skills (on one occasion retrieving his own kick and hitting a leading McManus lace out on the chest).
Having been used in a number of different roles for the day Robert McKinlay encapsulated the teams mindset, never being out of the contest. McKinlay made a marking contest which he couldnt complete though followed up with a terrific tackle that was rewarded with a free kick, feeling the energy on the field Robert played on and kick a lengthy goal.
Working at both ends of the pitch was Daniel Hespe who, while quiet (by his own standards) on the goal scoring sheet, was everywhere. Putting out fires at one end of the pitch and starting them at the other. His composure on the ball and calmness in playing backwards to go forward was a real catalyst for the runaway Sharks train.
Giants 29 – 163 Sharks
Any notion that the fourth quarter would offer any respite for the reigning champions was short lived as the Sharks were adamant about making a statement. Relentless defensive pressure from Neil Alexander from back to front and Andrew McManus from front to back forced errors from the home side that were snapped up by the Sharks and fed into the Great White trio up front.
Alexander Clark had been working hard throughout the day and showed great intelligence while the ball was in the air, getting to the right spots and mopping up from the middle to the Sharks back line to deny any advance from the opposition.
The feeding frenzy in front of goal continued until the clock ran out and the Sharks solidified their position at the top of the ladder with a performance that will put other teams on notice for the rest of the year.
Giants 38 – 225 Sharks
The forward trio of Dolling, McManus and Wolfenden managed to score thirty goals between them with The Wolf taking home half of those as well as Best on Ground Honours from his peers.
The Sharks take on the Tyne Tees Tigers next at GHA on Saturday June 16th.
|June 9, 2018||2:00 pm||SARFL||2018|
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