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Spartans vs Wolves - Preseason Game Review

posted Oct 24, 2011, 12:16 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Oct 24, 2011, 12:53 PM ]

What a day the Wellington weather put on for the first taste of football for the 2011-12 season. A lovely sunny day where the Spartans were taking on the Wolves in a pre-season battle to give each squad a gauge of how their trainings are going and for any rookie players to get their first taste of our great game. These two teams are always closely matched and today would be no different.

Being a pre-season hit out the rules had been slightly altered from regular season play and this created a bit of a festival atmosphere with a few old faces showing up on both teams.

Both teams started out a bit shaky on offence but it was Ian Vena from the Spartans who, playing behind an all rookie offensive line, made a couple of long runs to get the chains moving and provide a bit of excitement for the small crowd of family and friends that had gathered at Heretaunga College to watch. Both teams defences were definitely dominating proceedings however and it was the Wolves who got the first turnover of the game with a tipped ball that they turned into an interception and a short return off a pass by Spartans Quarterback Jonny Connor. The first half really was a struggle for both offences as they tried to find some early season chemistry, and late in the half Connor replaced impressive rookie Chris Matsopoulos at Cornerback and immediately got some revenge by picking up an interception himself. The only score of the game came on a late drive from the Wolves. After getting good field position they put together a solid drive making especially good use of their running backs on both running and passing plays. They eventually ran it in for the score and followed that up with a nice pass play for the two point conversion to get ahead eight points to nil which would end up being the final score.

The second half was a continuation of the firsts defensive stalemate.

Both teams used this game as a fantastic opportunity to try things out and while a lot of the things didn't quite work as was planned, the game was played in a great spirit and everybody had a great day. One of the highlights during the second half for the home team was a long pass from Connor straight over the middle to Jed Peniata who made a fantastic catch on his finger tips then ran forty odd yards down field before being tripped up a few yards short of the ten yard line. Solid defence from the Wolves and some offensive penalties stopped them from scoring, and toward the end of the game the visitors had reversed their fortunes and were knocking on the door of the Spartan goal line. Rookie lineman Mark Tanu made two massive plays to help the team end on a positive note. On first down he broke through the offensive line and ran down the running back before riding him into the dirt with a tackle that looked like a lion bringing down his prey. Then after forcing them into a passing situation on third down, the defensive line again created pressure that forced a short tipped pass that bounced right into Tanu's massive hands and he got his giant frame moving down field for a short return that had the sideline going wild.

It was an absolutely terrific way to start the season off and both teams got a lot out of the game that is going to hold them in good stead for the regular season which starts in a couple of weeks. Congratulations to all the rookie Spartans who made themselves and everyone involved in the team extremely proud with a fine display throughout the game and showed a lot of flashes of the potential that the team has going into this years defence of the Capital Bowl title that they won last season.

Thanks a lot to the Wolves committee for their help in organising the game and a big thank you to the NZGOA for providing officials for the match. We look forward to seeing everyone at training on Tuesday as we continue our work towards our season opener on November 12.

Photos Courtesy of Juntunlayco (