Ajax 8.14-62 Hampton Rovers 3.1-19
Sunday was our toughest challenge to date. We were 4 boys down, and we were playing the undefeated top of the table, big bodied outfit in Ajax.
We also started the game with only 17, so we sent in a tiny U8 Kai Hotton to defend a pocket. I’ve never seen anyone so excited to get on the field. Then when we had our first injury we sent in the next young lad we could spot on the sideline, so Hugo Tuffley ran on to mark the top of the goal square all alone at full forward. At the next moment I witnessed one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen in footy. A long ball was booted out of the centre and ran all the way down to little Hugo. As he sat there waiting for it bounce awkwardly towards him, and the stampede of big bustling U11 boys tearing towards him, everything almost went into slow motion. But Hugo held his ground and almost got the ball to boot before he was swallowed up by the herd who came crashing down over him. No goal, but what a champion.
It was a hard fought battle on Sunday for all four quarters. We were fully aware of the success our opponents had enjoyed so far through the season. But we wanted them to know that we not going to take it lying down. To be competitive we knew we had to be as hard as them, faster than them, and ultimately want the ball more than them. Undermanned, we did feel the force of their large physical team. However we definitely showed them that we have earned our place in Div 1, and took it right up to them all day. Taj Hotton played a blinder and was never far from the ball all day. Orlando and Joe did another superb job as tag team in the ruck. Harry and Mitch Tuffley played strong roles out of the centre and provided a lot of run. Ollie Sutherland embodied the spirit of Joel Selwood and lead the tackle count with a gutsy performance, showing size would not deter him. We saw some highlights of great courage also by captains Mitch Nolan and Jacob Cassidy. Hard efforts were also seen in Miles Palmer, Jordan Rao and Marco. And we were all privileged to have our little guests Kai and Hugo. Small in size, but enormous in enthusiasm and Rovers spirit.
Our focus throughout this tough game was around consistent quarters of effort, pressure and courage. It was a gallant performance. With a full team, and more Div 1 experience throughout the season, we will look forward to meeting Ajax again.