ST. PETERSBURG SWANS - 2016 USAFL DIVISION IV GRAND FINALISTS

SWANS IN FLIGHT: PLAYER HIGHLIGHTS

SWANS LOOK TO REGROUP AFTER DERBY DEFEAT

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The St. Petersburg Swans fell to 1-4 in USAFL play and 5-8 overall, as Ft. Lauderdale took their second straight in the Season Series.

The St. Petersburg Swans will return to training this Thursday with a renewed focus on fundamentals, having been schooled by Ft. Lauderdale for the second straight match.

In a tough, well-played match in sultry conditions, the sides spent the entire first frame feeling each other out, playing to a 0.3.3 – 0.3.3 break.

In the second quarter, Ft. Lauderdale found the weaknesses they had spent the first quarter searching for – and exploited them.

The Squids posted a 5.3.33-0.5.5 advantage, paced by WAAFL veteran Curt Martin (East Perth), and went in to the big break handily ahead by 28.

St. Pete did bounce back to life in the 3rd, firing four quick majors to get back into the contest, as Dustin Jones, Janni Mirosevich, Jake Keglor and Aaron Crittenden did their level best to fight back.

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St. Petersburg veteran Matt Elliott shone in the backline Saturday vs. Ft. Lauderdale.

That run would not play out in the final stanza, however, as Ft. Lauderdale rediscovered their ‘even-numbered quarter’ magic once again, sealing the affair with a 4.4.28 – 1.2.8 period and a final of 11.11.77 – 5.10.40.

Despite the Swans’ prowess as an offensive-minded side, that result was Ft. Lauderdale’s highest score against St. Petersburg going back the past two seasons.

The Swans return to training Thursday evening at 6 PM, on the Common at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg.

MARTINIZED! WAAFL VET DOMINATES SWANS

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Ft. Lauderdale’s Curt Martin turned in a dominating performance in leading the Squids to a victory Saturday in St. Petersburg

Ft. Lauderdale tall Curt Martin nearly single-handedly defeated the hosting St. Petersburg Swans, leading the Squids to an 11.11.77 – 5.10-40 win Saturday in St. Petersburg.

Formerly of East Perth of the WAAFL, Martin turned in a Performance Of The Year in guiding Ft. Lauderdale to a 2-1 series edge in the 2017 Florida Derby. Each home team had won the previous two matches in the Series.

With a combination of on-ball skills, deadly passing and equally lethal shooting, Martin was a problem from the get-go, as Swans’ Coach Greg Bray was forced into in-game strategy shifts to account for Martin.

While nothing seemed to work for the Red and White – other than a 3rd quarter that flashed a brief glimpse of the St. Pete offensive capabilities – the match indicated that future USAFL opponents taking on Ft. Lauderdale will be wise to take Saturday’s result in St. Petersburg to mind before facing the Squids going forward.

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TITANIC CLASH: ST. PETE OFFENSE v. FT. LAUDERDALE ‘D’

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Over the past three matches between the clubs, St. Petersburg and Ft. Lauderdale have alternated between Swans routs in St. Pete and ‘shut-down’ defense in dominating Squids wins in South Florida. FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey S King

With the St. Petersburg Swans hosting Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow afternoon in a 3pm 2017 Florida Derby decider, it’s nearly impossible which script the match will play to.

In what’s been a wildly unpredictable series over the last two seasons, the one constant theme has been big offensive wins by St. Pete at home, followed by dicey and fierce Ft. Lauderdale defense in nailbiting Squids wins in South Florida.

Saturday, the Bloods may be hard-pressed to follow that script if the forecast for wet weather holds true and gives advantage to Ft. Lauderdale’s ball controlling style.

In the last meeting between the clubs, the Squids relied on exquisite passing and teeming pressure to eke out a 36-point win in a match where points were at a premium. St. Pete, on the other, found themselves unable to replicate the swarming attack that propelled them to a 146-38 win in April.

Another factor that might play against the Swans’ hopes to repeat another 100-point margin is Saturday’s ground.

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St. Petersburg will be hoping for the return of ex-pat ruckman Jason Blackbourn in tomorrow’s tilt vs Ft Lauderdale.

While both St. Pete home wins against Ft. Lauderdale have come at the friendly confines of Four ‘N Twenty Field – a gridiron football field – Saturday’s tilt will play out on a 140m oval on the Common at Crescent Lake Park.

Even though the Common is also St. Petersburg’s training ground, the faster track and tight spaces at Four ‘N Twenty have proven to be the Red & White’s venue of choice over the past two seasons.

The wide open spaces of the Common might also play to the Squids’ skills, as the club is the only USA side to play at a regulation cricket oval.

While the Swans are hoping for the return to action of experienced ruck Jason Blackbourn, coaches Greg Bray and Matt Elliott are likely to deploy a duo of speedsters in Kyle Roun, Austen Kugler to take the top off the Ft. Lauderdale defense.

Saturday’s match is a 3pm ball up at the Common at Crescent Lake Park in St. Petersburg.

BLOODS MOVE FORWARD WITH BRAY, ELLIOTT

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Seen here in action vs Pittsburgh, the St. Petersburg Swans have announced Greg Bray as Senior Coach. PHOTO: KATIE MATSON

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Aussie ex-pat and seasoned footy veteran Matt Elliott joins Gregory Bray atop the St. Petersburg Swans’ on-field leadership.

The St. Petersburg Swans have announced an ex-pat ‘one-two punch’ to lead the club on the field.

Gregory Bray has been named Senior Coach, with fellow footy veteran Matt Elliott officially named Assistant Coach.

The pair have already introduced a new training regimen emphasizing football fundamentals, and strategic concepts of positional play.

Now, they’re hard at work preparing the squad for this weekend’s tilt versus Ft. Lauderdale.

With the 2017 Florida Derby Series knotted at one game apiece, Saturday’s ‘rubber match’ looms, with a 3pm ball up at the Common at Crescent Lake.

The Red and White used an offensive onslaught to take the first match in the series, 146-38, April 22 at Four ‘N Twenty Field at Campbell Park.

Ft. Lauderdale returned the favor July 8, posting a 36-point victory in which the Squids dominated play from the start.

With a newly-entrenched Aussie leadership boasting decades of footy experience, the St. Petersburg side will go for the clincher in the 2017 series.

BLOODS PREFER HOME COOKING IN DERBY QUEST

What first appeared a quirk is now a definite trend – and one the St. Petersburg Swans will be looking to extend when the club hosts cross-state rivals Ft. Lauderdale, Saturday at 3pm.

That trend is easy to spot: St. Petersburg has dominated the Squids at Four ‘N Twenty Field in St. Petersburg, posting a 103-59 Opening Night win in 2016, then notching a 146-38 rout April 22 this season.

Both times, however, the rematches at Central Broward Regional Park have been dominated by the Squids, who rode their defense to taut 51-39 (2016) and 57-21 (July 8) wins.

If St. Petersburg is going to capture the 2017 Florida Derby, they’re going to need to maximize the attack on the 140m oval ground at Crescent Lake Common.

Ft. Lauderdale, on the other hand, has had success grinding out play at home, relying on solid penetration and a skilled passing attack, and will be looking to transport that recipe to St. Pete this Saturday.

Game time is 3pm Saturday in the St. Petersburg Swans’ first-ever home day game, and also first regular season match on the oval.

SWANS, SQUIDS SET FOR FLORIDA DERBY CLASH

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Florida’s Aussie Rules clubs tangle Saturday afternoon at 3pm in St. Pete

In what’s sure to be an electrifying rematch of the Sunshine State’s footy clubs, the St. Petersburg Swans will host the Ft. Lauderdale Fighting Squids in Game Three of the 2017 Florida Derby, Saturday at Rollbotto Oval at Crescent Lake Common in St. Pete.

Ball up is 3pm.

With the sides having split the first two matches – St. Pete 108-point winners at home, and Ft. Lauderdale extracting a measure of revenge, winning by 36 points July 8 – the rubber match has the earmarks of a ripping clash between the cross-state rivals.

The match will be the Swans’ first-ever home day game, and also the first on the Common’s 140m oval.

The club’s normal training ground, Rollbotto Oval at Crescent Lake Common is located on the north side of Crescent Lake Park, the historic home of New York Yankees and New York Mets spring training baseball.

Free parking is available in the neighborhoods to the east and west of the Common, and admission is also free.

The St. Petersburg Swans return to training with a Thursday evening session at 6pm. St. Pete’s team announcement will follow at 8pm.

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