The last time we played the East Malvern Knights our boys won a tough contest, so we knew the replay was going to be even tougher, and for four entire quarters this was definitely true. Our captains Spencer Ries and Joe Whelan led the team out but East Malvern won the toss and started the first quarter with a slight advantage kicking with the breeze. It was a tough opening quarter with East Malvern making the early scores. But Archie Dowling managed a great pass to Harry Haines who managed to score our first goal of the match. Against the breeze our boys had done well to keep the score almost even at the first break.
In the second term the Knights came out firing again and quickly scored to get a goal ahead in another very hard and tough quarter. Our defence in Shae Newey, Henry O’Keefe, Spencer Ries, Zac Saunders, James Di Nicola and Josh Bou Diab were under the pump and managed to keep the opposition scoreless for the rest of the quarter and we went into half time with a one goal deficit.
At half time l asked our boys to give this one everything as it was our last home game for the season and we wanted to hear our little champions belt out the song one last time on home turf. In the third quarter Ben Montgomery, who had missed the last 3 games travelling around Europe, was on absolute fire scoring a goal to even up the score for the Rovers. In fact Monty was on fire for the entire match in easily his best game of the year – you smashed it today mate! Knowing this was going to be a tough encounter, before the game l had asked our boys to make every effort to lock the ball in our forward line when the opposition was kicking out. Our forward line of Ben Monty, Lachy Curtis, Luke Kollmorgen, Boston Hughes, Massimo Champness and Josh Kordupel did exactly what was ordered for most of the quarter. When the opposition moved the ball our defenders in James Jebb, Archie Dowling, Harry Haines, Joe Whelan, Reilly Vien and Kobe Knight (in Kobe’s best game of the year) defended valiantly denying any East Malvern goals. Thanks to a great team effort we went into the last break only a point down.
During the last break once again I asked our boys to give everything they had in one last effort, and reinforced to them how good they can play when they really ‘switch on’ and want it more than the opposition. Early in the final term Spencer Ries scored a point to even up the score but I thought that the team needed some more run, where at this point our assistant coach Kurt Sawatski, using his accounting background, also had his best game of the year helping to switch a few players around (and deserved an award himself!). After a few changes Ben Montgomery who was on the bench was sent back out into the forward line to give us anything he could. Our runner Ben Jebb was also sent out several times to remind our guys that any score would do it (& he actually did run!). And then it all came together – Ben Monty managed to score the one pointer of the year we needed, which gave us the lead and took some pressure off Spencer Ries, Josh Bou Diab, Shae Newey (also in his best game of the year), and Joe Whelan who had done a great job once again locking the ball in our forward zone. In a great team effort we held on for an awesome victory!
I’ve said many times before how proud I am of this group but they keep raising the bar and making us smile. They have now sung the song ten times this year, but what l like most of all is that three of their games have been decided by either 1 or 2 points, and they have fought out tough wins on all three of
these occasions. This ability to fight out a close game will go a long way.
I know we’re at U8 level and not officially scoring but let’s face it, our boys know the score and like to win, and as long as I am coach – I will never deny them the real feeling of having a great win, as long as they learn from the occasional loss which makes them appreciate the wins more. We have 23 players on our list, each and every one of them should feel very proud of the way they all contribute and belong to this team.
In another great game with not enough awards, I thought Ben, Shae, Spencer, Kobe & Boston (& Kurt!) all had their best game of the year.
Koje & Kurt