In my opinion the Cheltenham Panthers are physically the hardest team our boys have played so far this year. However, after our boys laid around 50 genuine tackles – yes l repeat, 50! – quite simply the Panthers didn’t stand a chance against this type of pressure applied by our superstars.
Captains for the day were Ben Montgomery and Luke Kollmorgen. Unfortunately we lost the toss and had to start against the wind. Once again we had a 4 person bench and our boys stepped up by volunteering to rotate playing for the Cheltenham team who were short on numbers. Also – thanks to Tyler Birt’s dad for fulfilling his allocated duties despite Tyler being sick.
In the first quarter Archie Dowling was moved into the midfield so he could play on his cousin and he duly rewarded his coach by clearing the ball forward despite kicking into a stiff breeze. A pre-game chat to Liam Farr, who has silky-smooth skills and untapped potential, resulted in him throwing everything at it and he rewarded his team mates with the first goal of the match against the wind.
Henry O’Keefe, Tom Strickland, Boston Hughes and Ben Montgomery did a great job locking the ball in our forward line for much of the quarter. Cheltenham had a chance to score but they couldn’t get past Joe Whelan who had automatically done the team thing dropping back to save a certain goal.
In the second quarter we had the wind and Massimo Champness, Harry Haines and Josh Kordupel started the push forward for the Rovers. Luke Kollmorgen used his typical gather and run to deliver the ball into our forward line. A goal from James Jebb and two from Hewy Sawatzki made it clear another win was on the cards.
Against the wind again Josh Kordupel in just his second game for the team managed to break free and kick the first goal of his career. To prove it was no fluke, he quickly followed it up with a second goal into the breeze. The Rovers defence were nevertheless under pressure as the Panthers had the wind, but once again Lachlan Curtis and Zac Saunders together with James Di Nicola provided some great defence to keep Cheltenham to just one goal in the 3rd quarter with the wind in their favour. Late in the quarter Luke gave us a scare hitting his head hard on the turf after flying for a pack mark and did not return to the field.
In the last quarter we moved a couple of boys forward so they had a chance of kicking their first goal for the Rovers. Shae Newey tried his hardest by tackling three successive times to lock the ball in our forward line, while Spencer Ries similarly continued to attack the ball in attempting to kick his first goal (don’t worry boys – keep this effort up and goals will come.) Unfortunately for them Joe Whelan had volunteered to play in the backline for Cheltenham and he did a stellar job defending our attacks. Adrian ‘speedy’ Gonzales showed plenty of dash and weaved past two Panthers to score two last quarter majors to open his goal scoring account in fine style.
This was another game where there were so many boys contributing, especially in the tackle count, that there were not enough awards to give out. Ben Montgomery was unstoppable all day laying 8 tackles, Luke Kollmorgen 7, while Shae Newey, Hewitt Sawatzki and James De Nicola each laid 5. On the kicking count Thomas Stricko had 9, Ben Montgomery and Lachy Curtis 8 (all of these guys get better and better each week), while Harry Haines, Hewy Sawatzki and Zac Saunders each had 7. These are all very impressive numbers! Hewy Sawatzki had been threatening all year to set the game alight and he certainly found his feet this week being on fire for all four quarters. Spencer Ries is also on the up and l get the feeling he is about to unleash on the opposition in the coming weeks.
I want to thank the parents who help with the tasks each week such as trainers, goal umpiring, time keeping, umpire escorts, water carrying, team photographers, stats recording, oranges etc. l never hear of any complaints so thank-you very much everyone for your support! There are two other blokes we also need to thank and this is overdue from me. Firstly Chris O’Keefe who does an excellent job umpiring, we are all in debt to him and the games won’t happen without him. Also our runner Ben Jebb, who despite sometimes being a little slow, does a great job not only giving on-field messages but teaching the kids at the same time.
If there are any other parents who can umpire or be runner to relieve these two from time to time – let me know (it would be great if Chris could sit back and watch Henry play for a few rounds).
This group of U8s is an awesome team, they are keen to learn, they are improving in new areas of their game week by week, and are a pleasure to coach.
Koje & Kurt