A lovely morning greeted the team as they turned up at 8.15am. It wasn’t yet sunny but the parents who did turn up (and numbers were down) were wearing dark sunglasses despite the cloud cover – due largely to the Rovers Casino Club night, that for some had just finished.
While most of the team was there by 8.30 there was still no sign of the coach. The call was about to be made but at the same time Steve Tuffley’s phone rang and it was Coach Hotton, desperate for some green shorts and thought that at least one of Steve’s kids could supply a pair. To cut a long story short – Ollie’s shorts were found which saved him from a Warrick Capper moment in Hugo Tuffley’s shorts.
But what about the game! Port / South Melbourne certainly came to play – they were on the field by 8am warming up. Some careful analysis pre game had shown that if both teams played to form it would be close. We’d beaten the same teams (expect for that game where we fell asleep against St Peters) and lost to the same teams.
Pros were they didn’t appear to have any giants, cons were we were without 2 of our key playmakers, Zach Bowen and Ollie Horigan. Fortunately we had some excellent replacements from the U12s and U11s in Mason and Ky Carrigan, Archie Roberts, Josh Docking and Taj Hotton.
The first quarter started with the ball seemingly stuck in the opposition forward line for a good 5 mins. Our defense was standing up well – and we managed to avoid letting any through the big sticks. Recent recruit Presley took a couple of telling marks – Then out of nowhere the ball came out of defense (apologies to the kids that did the hard work getting it out but the writer was also wearing dark glasses as a result of the previous evenings festivities) and ended up with Dan Hall who spotted Jack Kennedy who took a great mark. He in turn found Jack Tuffley who’d got himself free at half forward with a run from the wing. Jack T then returned the favour – kicking it back to Jack K who marked. The resulting kick slammed into the post – but we were looking better. The rest of the quarter was end to end stuff. Zac.Z took a goal saving mark in the goal square, Ned swooped onto a loose ball in the forward line and just missed. 3-3 at the first break.
The second quarter started with Jamie Delaney sprinting out of the middle and although details are sketchy – Hope no 10 got on the end of it and drilled our first goal. the opposition scored a lot of points and finally a goal – but we let ourselves down with some poor disposal – doing all the good work to get the ball and then coughing it up. This was stressed by the coach at half time. 9-13 down at the long break.
Port / South Melbourne got a quick goal to kick off the third quarter. This was answered by Dan Hall after a great mark. Then another goal to them from a ball that came in quickly and their forwards got out the back. 17-32 down at the last break. And to be fair – not looking like a team that was going to win.
Half way through the final quarter no score had been added and some of the parents would of left the ground if they didn’t have to take their kids home! but suddenly something clicked. Jamie Draheim laid a couple of bone crunching tackles after 40m of sprinting, Jules and Sam were in everything, Ned snapped a beauty, one of the Hopes (who will remain un-named) did some brilliant work to get free on the run at the top of the goal square but miscued and kicked it straight to the opposition on the goal line. But the great attack on goal didn’t stop. Every player was in our forward half. Somehow Alex Smyth got a quick ball to Luke NS who pumped it in where the Hopes performed a bit of magic – getting the ball to Dan who nailed another. Then Alex Smyth kicked a point and the game was all tied up. At this stage even the sleepiest parents were on their feet. Then Jamie Delaney (who by the way played a brilliant game) got on the score board with a point – putting us 1 point ahead. There were still a few minutes left and Port / South Melb had moved the ball end to end v.quickly before so it wasn’t wrapped up yet. The opposition were running out of defence when Taj Hotton laid a great tackle on a much bigger kid to get a holding the ball decision. He passed to his brother who marked about 20m out – went back and kicked a goal! Final scores – a win. 39-32.
The writer then promptly returned to bed, waking up still not sure whether the result was real or not. This team has been known not to wake up until after half time – but have never left it until 6 mins to go in the final quarter before!