Heidelberg hosted EDFL outfit Keilor for the club’s second practice match and first at home of 2012.
There were a number of changes including the return of ruckman Michael Gay, who showed that he will once again be a formidable force in the ruck throughout the season despite not playing any level of football last year.
Other welcome inclusions were returning Tiger’s John Shiels and Sean Logie, both of whom played at Tocumwal in 2011. Shiels’ last year at Heidelberg was in 2009 when he played every game in an undefeated Premiership side. Logie spent one year at the Tiger’s Den in 2010 however suffered a horrific knee injury in the opening minutes of the Grand Final against West Preston Lakeside.
Reigning Rosbrook medalist and club champion Michael Finn remains sidelined with a niggling hamstring injury but is expected to be available for Heidelberg’s round one opening match against Eltham.
With what was a young and relatively inexperienced lineup compared to Heidelberg sides of recent times, new coach Ryan Smith seized the oppourtunity to use players in a variety of different positions.
The exciting prospect for Heidelberg fans was the form shown by many, if not all of the players actively recruited to the club this year, most of whom are under the age of 23.
Former Banyule Bear Luke Giles was outstanding playing across half-back and will be hoping to play out a full season with his new club after some injury plagued years in the ammos.
Ex-Carlton rookie Caleb Tiller (pictured) was solid at both ends of the ground taking a number of telling marks and continues to impress. At only 21-years of age Tiller is shaping up to be the Tiger’s spearhead in attack this year in the absence of Saul Caddy who is set to miss the first half of the season with a knee injury.
The story of the day however had to be the emphatic return of man mountain Mick Gay, who put up a dominant display in the ruck and showed no signs of the injury that sidelined him for over 12 months.
The hosts eventually finished 3 goal winners in what was a relatively even contest with the margin rarely exceeding double figures.
Better players included Tiller, Shiels, Gay and Giles.
Next Sunday we travel to Blackburn (map) for our third and final practice match.