Tigers vs. Crows: A Mother’s Day Extravaganza

On Saturday, May 8th, the Tigers took on the Austin Crows in a match that would continue to reveal the strength and the flaws in this season’s Baton Rouge side.

The sun burned off some early cloud cover and some soccer tots were booted off their fields for the 1pm start time.  With a light breeze, temps in the low 80s, and a fast, firm ground, the scene was set for a good afternoon of football.

With early season standout Minnesota James Kavanaugh sidelined with a torn calf muscle and rookie ruckman Daz Duhnke carrying a niggling shoulder injury into the match, the Tigers opted to employ a conservative ruck strategy to compliment their defense-minded structure.  Playing 16s instead of the full 18s, the Tigers keep a complete fullback and halfback line at the expense of their forwards.

To further mix up their forward structure, the Tigers used first-gamer Lindy Dentinger in a hybrid half-forward/midfield role to accentuate his greatest skills: tackling and crumbing.

The lineup was built to pressure the Crows’ offensive thrusts while allowing the Tigers’ streaming defenders to use their run and carry to bring the ball to the forward 50.  While lacking a power forward this season, the Tigers have some key scrappy small forwards in Peepers Phillips, Rugby Ray Chastain, and Jeff Horn.

Once referee (and occasional Tiger) Nathan Lane tossed the ball up to start the match, the Tigers’ pre-game strategy seemed to pay off.  Dentinger cleaned up some messy ground-level play and kicked Baton Rouge’s first goal, putting a charge in the home side.

Veteran Bo Hilty rucked valiantly against a taller, stronger Austin big man, and early in the match the Tigers’ defensive-minded on-ball play of Duhnke, Mickey Kleinhenz, and Tyler Smith managed to win the majority of the contested ball.

Ageless wonder Neil Stebbing directed the defense from the fullback position and the running power of streaming defenders Irish James Morris and Aaron LaRose had an immediate impact as they cut through the Crows lines.

But while the aggressiveness of the Tigers defense provided an immediate counter-attack, it also allowed the Crows to play the ball over the top and score some easy goals.

Once the game settled into a rhythm, the Crows’ superior off-the-ball movement also gave the Tigers trouble.  With the Tigers’ midfield and half-backs often neglecting positioning to apply forward pressure, Austin was allowed to control the middle of the ground and quickly re-distribute the ball into their forward line on the rebound.

Despite making halftime corrections, the Tigers inexperience revealed itself again as Austin continued to use savvy passing to repeatedly surge into the Baton Rouge half.  Despite the hard-running brilliance of Kleinhenz, who repeatedly hauled in contested marks and tackled ferociously, and the dogged determination of huge on-baller Duhnke, Austin’s midfield experience won the day. As the Crows adapted their ruck strategy, they began winning the majority of the clearances and got clean delivery to their frontlines.

But that’s not to say the Tigers didn’t have their moments of excitement.

Jeff Horn, one of the Tigers’ most improved players, bagged two goals.  Despite seeing less of the ball in the second half, Dentinger tackled hard like the good old country boy he is.  Mason Suri Adams kicked a beautiful running goal from 35 meters out at an angle.  Taylor Flea Braud battled through 2 cracked ribs to play his most physical and consistent game of footy yet.  Although he lost at least one mark to his diamond-hard pectorals, Peepers Phillips led hard and played smart footy.

At the end of the day, Austin prevailed 14.11 (95) to 6.4 (40).

As the Tigers are in the midst of rebuilding with a largely inexperienced side, they used this game as a measuring stick to determine their progress toward the ultimate goal of competing strongly at nationals.  Progress is definitely being made as new players are picking up skills and learning how to fit into the side.  Veteran players are returning to the team and morale is high.

And although the Tigers conceded defeat to the Crows, who were simply better on the day, they conducted themselves with class on and off the field.  Despite facing a lopsided scoreboard in the second half, the boys from Baton Rouge played hard and ran their guts out to the final whistle.

The Tigers will take on newcomers Houston in three consecutive matches starting this Saturday, May 22 at 1pm at Clark Park in Baton Rouge.

Final Score: Austin 14.11 (95) to Baton Rouge 6.4 (40)

Best: Mickey Kleinhenz, Lindy Dentinger, James Morris, Daz Duhnke, Jeff Horn.

Goals: Horn (2), Kleinhenz, Dentinger, Taylor Braud, Mason Adams

Injuries: Neil Stebbing (foot)

Reports: None

Dallas Tourney!

This Saturday, the Baton Rouge Tigers are teaming up with the Houston LoneStars for a trip north to Dallas.  The combined BR/Houston squad will face off against Dallas at 10am and Austin at 12pm for the annual Crawfish Cup.  This is the first year of the nationals-style tourney.

The Tigers are coming off of an opening victory against Houston and have put in some hard yards to prepare this upcoming test of fitness and skills.  Houston is coming off a defeat against Austin, but head coach Dan Holwerda is pleased with his team’s effort if not the result.

Tiger assistant coach Neil Stebbing will make his season debut and ruckman Daz Duhnke will try to match his previous Best On Ground performance.  This will also be the match debut of Rugby Ray, whose two-footedness and feel for the game are sure to make an impact at either midfield or forward.

Of the two teams the Tigers will face, the Dallas Magpies have been the most consistent.  The defense is sound, their midfield is savvy, and their forwards are generally big and experienced.  The Austin Crows have had impressive results the past two years and will certainly bring a fired-up squad looking for vengeance for last season’s Div. 3 grand final defeat against the host team.

All four teams will nurse their wounds but not their beers at the post-tourney Crawfish Boil.

Info/maps:

Hotel: Crowne Plaza located at 7800 Alpha Rd. Dallas Texas

Field: Celebration Park in Allen Texas

Tigers Hijack Houston, Head Home Victorious

Despite contracting a serious case of the yips on the 5-hour trek into Texas, the Baton Rouge Tigers earned a 4.4 (26) to 0.6 (6) win over newly minted USAFL club, the Houston Lonestars, this past Saturday.

With temperatures in the 70s and some light cloud cover, Mother Nature almost provided perfect conditions except for a strong wind that swept diagonally across the oval.  The Lonestars scrounged up a very playable field that was marred only by a few bog-like mud pits in the midfield.  A small, quietly observant crowd and the popping of small caliber artillery from the surrounding gun ranges provided the atmosphere as the match got underway.

Both teams blooded some rookies in place of their more established veterans.  The Tigers played without subs, something that would’ve surely affected their performance had the match not been in a Nationals-style format of two 20-minute halves.

But as it was, Baton Rouge took an early lead thanks to a goal from rookie ruckman Daz Duhnke.  Playing in his first match, the big fella proved he’ll be an outstanding weapon throughout the season as he won the majority of the hit-outs and brought a high-energy, end-to-end running style that eased the workload of rovers Tyler Smith and Mickey Kleinhenz.

Despite setting the tone with another goal from streaking halfback (and captain) Minnesota Kavanaugh, the Tigers found themselves facing a game Lonestar squad that took advantage of a lull in the match to pepper the posts with shots.  Unfortunately for Houston, they too had developed a case of the yips in front of goal and managed only to rack up a number of behinds.

At halftime, the unconfirmed score was 2.1 (13) to 0.4 (4) in favor of the Tigers.  After suffering short spray from their coach imploring them to push harder in the second term, the Tigers took the field for the decisive second half.

Kicking into the wind and a few outlying mudpits, the Tigers manage to overcome both these physical obstacles and the dangerous presence of Lonestar player-coach Dan Holwerda to kick clear.

Shanks and missed opportunities abounded in the second half as half forward Joe Flash Roy and rover Smith combined for a few out-on-the-fulls.  Luckily, Baton Rouge spearhead Peepers Philips steadied the squad with a goal and omnipresent midfielder Kleinhenz also bagged a major to put an emphatic stamp on the Tigers’ now-dominant play.

Two of Baton Rouge’s big boys, backman Nick Dozer and forward pocket John Z, showed moments of brilliance with crunching tackles.  After building the confidence with a lead on the scoreboard, the Tigers became more physical across the board.  In between making runs, winger Roo-Ben Nambo upended an opponent.  Stalwarts Robbie Montanaro and Roy maintained pressure across the fullback and half-forward lines respectively.  Kavanaugh and Kleinhenz used their fitness and cleverness to continually rebound the ball back into Houston’s half.  But the team as a whole was paced by the new ruck Duhnke as he brought an outstanding willingness to win the ball and play the length of the field.

When the final whistle brought the match to a close, the Tigers celebrated the victory by serenading the crowd with the team song before dividing up for the afternoon’s mixed squad match.

Tigers Stats:

Final Score – 4.4 (26) to 0.6 (6)

Captain – Minnesota James Kavanaugh

Goal Kickers – Duhnke, Kavanaugh, Philips, Kleinhenz

Best on Ground:
(3) Daz Duhnke
(2) Mickey Kleinhenz
(1) Kavanaugh, Tyler Smith

Houston Match Info

This Saturday the Baton Rouge Tigers will challenge the Houston Lonestars for dominance of Interstate 10.  We’ll play two matches of 2 x 20 minute halves.  The first will be BR vs. Houston, the second will be a mixed-squad match.

Short a number of veterans, the Tigers will blood several promising new players in their stead.  It looks to be an exciting match between two clubs with a recent friendly history.

We’ll play at George Bush Park, which is west of Houston by Texas Highway 6 South.

Preview to follow.

Join Us in 2010

The Baton Rouge Tigers recruit continually throughout the season.  We’re always looking for new players–no previous playing experience required.

Our team has a wide range of fitness and skill levels, from beginners to veteran Aussies. Footy is easy to learn, but difficult to master.  If you train with us, we’ll get you in a jersey and on the field.