Anchorians welcomed newcomers Footscray to Darland Avenue for the opening game of the 2018 / 2019 season. Having narrowly beaten Footscray at the end of last season in the Kent Salver, Anchs were expecting a close match but what transpired was an emphatic win to provide a great start to their campaign.
In perfect playing conditions, on a well manicured pitch, Anchs made a lively start and were rewarded with an early try to Sam Brown who finished off a great run from Adam Davison. The try went unconverted but Jon Mann was soon able to make amends when captain Mark Barfoot picked up at the back of the scrum and broke through several tackles to score under the posts.
Anchs kept up the pressure with the game being played almost exclusively in Footscray’s half. Following another break by Mark Barfoot, Paul Knight was on hand to score another try under the posts which was duly converted.
Anchs continued to create numerous chances, but were also making mistakes and conceding penalties. Ryan Lehane, who was making his Anchs debut in the pack, and Tom Williams found themselves on the end of flowing moves to add two more tries before half time both of which were converted by Jon Mann.
Going in at half time with a 31 – 0 lead meant the victory and bonus point were secured and, not unexpectedly, Anchs didn’t quite keep up the first half performance. However, the second half still saw Anchs dominate possession and territory, and Jon Mann quickly added two tries using his speed and excellent support play.
Using the kicking option, Jon Mann put a high ball into the Footscray 22 and Kenton Parbutt timed his tackle on the fullback perfectly, which dislodged the ball allowing his brother Taylor to pick up the loose ball and score unopposed.
On the few occasions that Footscray were on attack in the Anchs 22, Anchs recovered possession and chose to run the ball resulting in 3 more long range tries, scored by Chris Everest and a further 2 by Jon Mann who finished the game with 36 points from 4 tries and 8 conversions.
It was an excellent start to the season for Anchs, scoring 11 tries in a 71 – 0 victory, but both captain Mark Barfoot and coach Dom Saunders agreed that the team need to be more clinical in their finishing and improve their overall play to be successful this season, particularly when they come up against stronger opposition who will put their defence under greater pressure.
By Ian Brenton
Jon Mann * 4 (8 conversions)