Some lightning-quick disc movement has helped the Brisbane Breakers to a convincing win over the Adelaide Dragons in their opening round AUL clash.
Both teams came out firing in some blustery conditions – it hailed at one point – and with a firm headwind they were converting downwind points with ease.
At 2-2 Adelaide seemed to gain the upper hand as they forced repeated turns from the Breakers, and worked patiently upwind with the disc in hand. But after five attempts the Breakers were able to hold, and the momentum seemed to swing their way.
Some great vision from Copeland picked out McCallum deep, and he jumped it in to secure the first break of the game. They broke again straight away through Kat Smith, before Shannon Bubb managed an unbelievable grab to break one back for Adelaide. The wind caught hold of Joel Pillar-Rogers‘ huck and Thomas Vo was able to get a block on it. Undeterred, Bubb put her body on the line to clean up the trash and keep Adelaide in the game.
“She did an awesome job of owning space on the field all game,” Breakers’ cutter Sophie Taylor said, “which is what you need to make those clutch grabs!”
Brisbane broke again to take half, and twice more in the second half to claim a 13-8 win.
Taylor, who scored four goals for the Breakers, said they were “pretty stoked” with the strong start to the season in spite of the hail and, at times, horizontal rain.
“Going into the game, we had confidence in our structures to get the job done but there were still some very tough match-ups on the Dragons!” she said. “The rapid changes were definitely a challenge … For amazing throwers like Lyra Meehan the conditions are pretty irrelevant, so we were able to consistently keep the disc moving the way we wanted to.
“They are a team that’s loaded with talented receivers to we were happy in how we managed to limit their damage to our scoreline.”
After round one, Taylor is the AUL’s joint leading point-scorer with four points, and also recorded two blocks – including a crucial hand block on Adelaide’s Shannon Bubb on Sunday. But she’s unphased by the statistics.
“I’ve actually spent the last year making a conscious effort to shift measures of onfield success away from stats like goals, blocks and assists and more towards how well I execute the team plan and how many times I can hit the ground in a game,” said Taylor, who had at least two successful bids on Sunday night.
But the statistics do speak loudly. Liam Grimmond finished with three blocks while Taylor, Thomas Vo, Bekah Ziegman and Lyra Meehan all recorded one apiece. Ziegman’s in particular was one for the highlight reel as she managed a huge layout block on Mich Phillips.
“The most incredible flying block,” was Taylor’s characterisation. “I’ve seen firsthand how much work she’s put into her bids over the last year and it’s all paying off.
“[And] Grimmond, he’s had an abdominal muscle injury that’s been plaguing him this season but he still throws himself around the field like he’s made of rubber. Way to still give 100%!”
Loughlin Murphy and Brett Middleton were the only Dragons to get blocks. Offensively, the stats reveal the strength across the Breakers’ line with goals and assists shared among a variety of players. Taylor (4), Myles McCallum (2), Kat Smith (2) and Cath O’Neill (2) all grabbed points, while Liam Grimmond (4), Calan Spielman (2) and John McNaughton (2) rank highly for assists. By comparison, Jonothan Warren-White (5) and Joel Pillar-Rogers (3) dominated the Dragons for assists, while Loughlin Murphy (3) and number 1 draft pick Sally Yu (2) were the only Adelaide players in the league’s top 10 point scorers.
In the end the Breakers were too quick and too tight for a less well-gelled Adelaide Dragons team. But it’s early days. There’s no doubt that the Dragons’ incredibly talented and experienced line-up will combine better and better as this competition goes on. It’s too early to count anyone out.
Written by: Jen Hoar
Photo by: Mark Milne