Spirit v Wolves

Round 5 report by Chris Dunklerley
Northern Spirit v Wollongong Wolves

NS team/rating: Henderson (9), Enes (9), Bosnar (6), Bilokapic (5), Moss (8), Slater (8), Marusic (7), Cunico (6), Casserley (7), Arnold (5), Zane(7). (Subs: Watkins, Stubbs-Mills, Purdue)

After weeks of frustration I was at last making my first Spirit game live. My son & I set out through the usual nightmare Friday night Sydney traffic and fluked a parking spot only 3 blocks from the ground. There were spots of rain on the way but it mainly held off for the evening. Entered the ground at 6.45 and moved around to the Bob Stand, which was already filling fast. Spying a portable Merchandise stand on the way we bought a denim Spirit cap ($20) and oh joy a Spirit scarfe newly available and a very distinctive red & gold. (Eat your heart out Julian Farrell!). They were selling quite well. Geoff Coy hailed us and we squeezed into the Bob Stand. No sooner than in my son went off to try to find his teammates on the hill and the Spirit Media Liasion Officer Dave Mason brought over a journalist from the Mosman Daily, who stayed with us among "the northern noise" for the game taking copious notes.

The first half was mostly played at our end with the Spirit pushing up onto the Wolves defence who were obviously playing a counter attacking game. Slater was coming in for some attention, with Scott Chipperfield picking himk up zonally obviously to use his pace to nullify Slaters. The NS defence for a time were fazed by the pace of the Wolves counterattacks with Masi and Chipperfield looking dangerous each time. By half time Spirit were looking more confident in defence with Casserley particularly getting more involved and Moss nullifying Horsley, and Enes oozing class (you'd think he always played sweeper!).

The secong half started with some more fire in the Spirit attack and a little variation from the long balls. It was from fine lead up work by Zane, a flick-on by Marusic and Slater was there to poke it it in! This stirred the Wolves and they attacked with some fury but the makeshift Spirit defence just soaked it up, with Enes and Henderson particularly outstanding. A critic could say Spirit should have done better at home, but each week an area of the team lifts and by the second half of the season we may see a team with much more flair and confidence. For now a grafted win, is a win, is a win! As for the Wolves, it won't be too many weeks before they tear a defence apart.

The Bob Stand again contributed noise if not great variety of support and spread over 2 full bays with 3 main focal points, and lots of colour.