The Melbourne Flames faced off against the Adelaide Dragons in their round two game of the Australian Ultimate League, looking for their second win in as many games.
An exciting match-up ensued as the Dragons tried to stage an upset against the League favourites, but their efforts were unsuccessful as the Flames took the game 13-10.
In the pre-game interview, Flames coach, Cheok Funn Lee poured praise on the Adelaide team and said that they would be looking at ways to effectively defend against them.
“Adelaide have a lot of great throwers that really see space on the field very effectively. And we know they have a lot of players that have played for quite a while. So we just want to make sure we are matching up on those throwers quite well and identify the receivers downfield,” he said.
When asked if there were any specific players that the Flames would be looking to shut down or have key matchups against, he replied that they had identified some players who could cause them problems.
“We know Joel Pillar-Rogers is a player that’s been throwing very well for Adelaide for years, so that’s someone we’re aware of. We know an up and coming player, Sean Davis, is another one that we will get a matchup for.
“We also know Mish Phillips is coming off an awesome campaign with Revolution where she played very well so that’s another one we’ll have an eye on.”
The Flames got out of the gates with guns blazing and got their first break point on the second point of the game when Tom Deller assisted his fellow debutant Ruby Anderson with a nice and floaty high release backhand.
On offense, the Flames executed the same tactics as their previous game, relying on quick and short passes, patient build-up and not taking too many risky shots as they work the disc up the field.
Tom Deller gave us a rundown on what the Flames’ plan was with the disc. “On offense we avoided throwing to aerial contests as the Dragons do have excellent skills in a contest; especially their women as I would put Michaela Dunmall, Sally Yu and Mich Phillips as 3 of the best athletic female receivers in the league,” he said.
He added, “Sticking to our simple offensive structures and attacking break side was the main instruction.”
The offensive plan worked as the Flames took the half 7-5, while securing a 99% pass completion rate with 69 completed passes and no throwaways.
On defense, the Flames looked to shut down the deep options as they replicated the gender mismatch defense we saw against the Sydney Suns in round one. The Dragons were forced to make risky deep shots and the Flames managed to extend their lead to 10-6 after the half-time break.
But the Dragons did not back down and attempted to stage a comeback, closing the gap to 10-8. They weren’t able to get another break and traded to the 13-10 finish, seeing the Flames claim their second win in the League.
Deller spoke highly of Adelaide’s desire to comeback in the game. He said, “We got an early jump on the Dragons, but they displayed the classic Aussie battler attitude and never once let up chasing back, keeping the game alive right to the end. All the teams on this level are capable of scoring on anyone, so an early lead is no guarantee to an easy win.”
He added, “Weather conditions made clean, clinical offense difficult for both teams and Adelaide charged hard, keeping pressure on us the whole game.”
Deller was seen limping on the point after the halftime break after he scored and wheeled away in celebration. When asked about it, Deller was quick to calm the worrying minds of the Flames’ fans.
He said, “In that contest my defender stomped on my foot pretty hard and it was swollen and sore but no, it shouldn’t affect me and I will be playing the rest of the season.”
Some notable stats from the game include Alex Prentice top scoring for the Flames in this round, with 3 goals to her name, while Cat Phillips and Brendan Ashcroft secured 2 each. This puts Prentice and Phillips joint 5th on the league’s goals leaderboard.
Seb Barr came out with an impressive 7 assists which rockets him to 2nd on the league’s assists leaderboard.
The Melbourne Flames face the Canberra Freeze next in their round 3 match. Will the Flames continue to burn bright or will Canberra freeze their blistering run? Tune in on 28 September, 7:00pm to find out.
Written by: Alex Tsui
Photography: Mark Milne