*** ROUND 4 – COACH HAS FULL SUPPORT OF THE BOARD! ***
The first three rounds of footy have seen tremendous improvement from all of the boys but also collectively as a team. But prior to today, and despite it being very close in all previous games, we have been searching for an opportunity to sing that song. Today we got to do so and I am very pleased for the boys – not that winning or losing is the focus!! But they deserved it.
Turning up at Dingley, the first thing I noticed was the small size of the ground and the country setting. It is a good reminder that the boys will experience all types of conditions and must be quick to adapt. With high hopes we started the first quarter with Will showing us his vertical leap from the ruck, Kit scrounging around for the big man’s crumbs and Harry spreading around the contest waiting to pounce on a loose ball. Joshua fortuitously snaffled a clearance and drove us into attack. Fierce tackling from Cruzy and Eddie (Betts as he becoming known!) up forward enabled us to lock it in but given the small ground and lack of space, we soon realised this game was going to be played in and under the contest. This was at odds with how the coach wanted to play which was play on and run the ball but we must adapt when things don’t go according to our plan. Despite this, late in the first quarter Charlie swooped on the ball with a great pick up and got it going forward. The excitement built as the ball ended up in the hands of Caelan M who had it knocked clear but followed up with a terrific second effort and steamrolled his way through the oppositions defence to score an emphatic goal and our first – there may even have been a sneaky “don’t argue” in there as well.
Second quarter and we are stuck in a gridlock of ball ups and congestion. Fierce tackling from Kai who is quickly becoming the teams kamikaze tackle pilot trailblazing the way for his teammates. “Follow me boys ” he screams in between tackle after tackle. In another life I think Kai may have been a world champion Jouster! A tough little man – I love it! Meanwhile, (I digress – back to the game!) Jack delivered by foot from the wing and Kit was driving us deep into attack. Ashton controlled the middle and kept the opposition midfield guessing while Caelan K-F ran the ball from half back. Still locked in a tight affair, neither side could break through and get their ‘run and carry’ going. Louis got his hands on the ball as did Sebastian.
The third quarter and the tone of the game thus far had been contested play and plenty of ball ups. The opposition had snuck ahead but the Rovers were not done – not by a long shot! Cooper found the footy and used it by foot. Jackson N started some run and carry through the middle and finished with a penetrating kick up forward. Enter Kai to take a steadying mark twenty metres out from goal on a slight angle. Like an obedient drone, the ball travelled inches above everyone’s fingertips across the goal line straight through and we were back in front. The tension mounts again. Jackson Block, Archie and Will locked it down in the middle and the siren sounded. This one’s going down to the wire.
The last quarter and the fingernails are getting a workout. Travis Barker, our runner, went above the call and must have clocked in over the 10km mark for the afternoon. A fraction tardy at times but it’s hard to get good help! Back to the game. With tensions mounting, sometimes pressure does funny things. Not to our boys. Lucas gathered cleanly to handpass to Jackson N who was playing up forward this quarter. To add to the tension we had shots on goal but netted only points. We were looking for a game changer, a big game player, a little man with nerves of steel to show the way. “Get out of the way” he was heard to say. “I’ll take that” and sure enough we’re in front again thanks to the man of the moment, JUMPING JACK POLLIO. Take a bow mate, terrific goal when we needed it.
As the celebrating slowed down, and the centre bounce took place, Dingley had cleared the ball from the middle with a long kick to the flank and as if possessed, one of their players gathered and kicked truly to put them back in front. Happened within seconds. If I didn’t see it, I would have believed it! The Rovers would have been excused for rolling over at that point and accepting a gallant loss but no – not this group. With Freddie running off the wing with purpose, Angus in and under as usual, we were set. With probably only seconds remaining Ethan gathered the ball in the middle and ran. Amazing how much more distance we can travel when we run and carry the ball. He ran his full quota through the middle, bounced cleanly, got back onto his preferred right side and drove it long. Perfect. Run and carry, run and carry (this was me rocking back and forth on the sideline!) The crowd started getting involved and the sleepy rural setting had turned fever pitch (and in some sections, a fraction feral!) All we need is one more. And like a falcon perched high above the tree tops stalking his prey, in swoops Sebastian, squawking and bellowing. He gathered, ran and carefully delivered to Jackson N by hand.
Did time stand still? I’m not sure.
The atmosphere electric and coaches job on the line (“full support of the board”) Jackson ran, steadied and as the ball left his boot and sailed high into the air there was a silent hum from the crowd – straight through the middle of the big sticks and they had done it. The first of many rousing renditions of the song our boys will experience. But there is nothing like your first.
Congratulations to all players – everyone contributed.
Rovers awards, in no order, for the day were as follows:
Congratulations to those boys.