As the first siren sounded Sunday at 8.30am to kick off the earlier games, Boss James was smothered in a haze of thick fog. By late morning the fog had cleared and the u12’s were presented with what could only be described as perfect conditions on our MCG. We reminded the troups of our last game here where me managed just the one goal, and we set ourselves the seemingly simple and achievable objective of 2 goals a quarter, against an opponent to be respected in Ajax.
After emphasising the importance of starting the game with intensity, and to be the team that dictates the play, we found ourselves under early pressure and on the back foot. Ajax were displaying slick ball movement, and with our backs and mids a little loose we were looking vulnerable. Brodie was busy winning the footy in dangerous areas and defended to instruction towards the boundary side. After rushing a number of behinds through some bone crunching efforts of Josh B we eventually conceded the early goal. The momentum eventually swung our way and we managed to lock the ball in our forward half, where Elliot playing as a deep forward had his trademark goal out of nowhere moment, and gave his team a much needed boost coming into 1/4 time.
The second quarter was controlled by the Rovers where we dominated the contested footy, but were unable to convert on the scoreboard until Ethan bobbed up and snapped truly. From the next clearance Luke took a strong mark 25m out and converted, and the Rovers were up and about and playing good footy. The half back brick wall was led by Maso at his competitive best, with Jamie and Jake T alongside competing strongly at ground level, preventing the opposition from entering the 50 m arc. Late in the quarter against the run of play they threatened with a late charge , only to be thwarted by a desperate lunge tackle of Matteo. With 30 sec on the clock Kai who kept accumulating the footy took an intercept mark, and had the presence of mind to look inboard to Kyle who had corridor space and took it and delivered to half forward, where Oli H got on the end of it and snapped truly to cap off a fantastic quarter of Rovers footy with score board reward.
The momentum continued into the 3rd quarter with the HB brick wall continuing to intercept with Jenson sent back there to provide even greater resistance. With our clearance machine in Arch continuing to give his side first use, he then managed to push deep where he snapped a goal from the pocket to give his grandma a thrill. With Ted influencing the centre clearance work supported by Alex, we continued to push forward but after some missed opportunities that may have put the opposition away, Ajax lifted their work rate and broke through our HB wall and finished the quarter with a couple goals. Disappointingly we had let them back in and were faced with a real struggle going into the last.
With a slender 6 point margin, the ball became immediately locked in the Ajax forward line and they were pressing. Importantly we didn’t allow them the score through smart defending on the far side, using our 19th man in the boundary line to great effect. Once we were able to clear through some fine evasive work of Josh D, we secured the ball in our own half, until we got an “important point” that was perhaps a bit early to call it that but that soon became an even more important goal from another Oli snap. And when he got his 3rd a few minutes later thanks to the efforts of Ben S who put the after burners on and took on the Ajax defenders, the temptation may have been to put the feet up. The likes of Josh N and Nicho didn’t feel the need to relax and kept applying relentless pressure when Ajax were making a late charge. A late goal attempt by Jacky G intercepted by his own teammate would have seen his team reach the target of 8 goals. When the siren sounded and score board indicated a 20 point victory, we were more than satisfied with the effort and outcome against a well drilled team.
Coaches Ash & Steve