by Doug Mattushek (Ghost)
“Rocktober is cancelled” read the message on the Whatsapp group. Many thought it a joke but when more information starting flowing, the number of sad emojis was just too damn high.
Fast forward three days and it was confirmed that we were off to the races thanks to some mad scrambling skills from the Rocktober TOC.
With many Ghosties involved in the 2016 WUGC campaign, training for Roctober was especially light, focusing on specific skills and having fun. This seemed to pay off, as we arrived in the 011 with a fresh, positive and hungry for frisbee vibe.
First up on Saturday was the ELUF Knights, whose ranks were bolstered by some Durbanites. This made for challenging handler-marking as we tried out different zones. A couple of seriously athletic plays kept them in the the hunt in the early stages, but our suffocating zone defense eventually lead to several turns and a 15-4 win. It came as a cost, however, as a collision lead to one of our ladies missing the rest of the tournament.
A slow start against a fired up Ultitude 2 saw the scores locked at 3-all but again we were able to turn the screws in the gusty conditions, mainly thanks our tireless woman upfront in the zone. An impressive run of points would lead to another 15-4 victory.
The last game of the day saw us face the short line of Galeforce, who looked dashing in their brand new kit. While we ran out to a 11-0 lead after several flawless offensive points, it was not a true reflection of the game. Galeforce handled our zone defence particularly well with a myriad of short passes. While they were just nine deep, it sounded as though a whole choir had assembled for their serenading of the Ghost MVP in the post-match activities. It was a fitting way to end a successful day.
Despite the quarter-final rumours floating around the party, we learned early on Sunday morning that we were to face our frenemies Catch 22. Points were traded upfront as patient handlers picked their way through our zone until 4-all. But once more we were ale to earn turnovers and make them pay with slick offence scoring the next eleven points on the trot.
As per usual, Chilli enjoyed a strong start on the semi-final and ran out to a 5-2 lead in the East Rand heat. However, this did not prevent a couple superb layout blocks from both teams. After a coupe trades, Chilli still had the edge with experienced handlers picking apart our zone.
A more aggressive zone in the second half earned the turnovers we needed to catch up and the momentum swung our way for the first time in the latter stages of the game. A late flurry of points earned Ghost our first final since MCI in 2014 and ended a run of seven consecutive 3rd/4th playoffs. Relief, high fives and painkillers followed.
Our hopes were almost dashed when we heard there had again been a re-seeding, incredibly resulting in Chilli making the final, but the quick-witted Scoville stalwart ensured us it was just a joke.
Unfortunately, the final was a bridge too far for us, as UCT Tigers continued on their high after a watershed win over the Long Donkeys. After being 8-4 down at half, even a visit from Jose Cuervo did not fire up our fatigued legs. We certainly did not mind losing to this incredibly talented and spirited group – who finally have some silverware to show for their efforts – and left for home with spooky smiles.