Today we had our first taste of the winter chill and winter winds. Dry conditions but a clear advantage towards one end of the ground. Our Captains today were Jack Breen and Campbell Hardie and we took on an unknown opponent Bentleigh Demons. The ground was dry in good condition and looked a touch longer that Castlefield (but who’s really measuring?).
Today we had two important outs with Theeran and Jake away, in addition to this Toby and Lincoln volunteered to play in the game prior with our Under 8 team. Good warm up for the boys, but I must confirm I had concerns about the boys having the legs to run out two games? With our Rovers Under 8’s playing prior at Bentleigh we were lucky enough to arrange two eager boys to play up today with Luke Kollmorgen and Spencer Ries giving us bench options and both holding their own with the step up in age.
First quarter we had the wind and it looked to be a relatively even contest for the most of the quarter. Bentleigh scored the first goal of the game but we responded with a nice run and snap from Harry Ockerby. Campbell and Chris shared ruck duties and both boys used their size and strength well. Jody and Fletcher were all over the middle of the ground and Josh showed great gathers on the wing. Jade was his usual strong presence down back setting up our response after each attack. Wil Licheri was showing us what he can do when he gets in the mix of things, his efforts on the ball as well as the tackle was well noted, exactly what I am looking for in all our boys. The invisible score board indicated a close game at the break.
Into the wind, and it had picked up a few knots by now. The coach let the boys down here, where I didn’t re-enforce what adjustments we needed going into the wind. It was the first game this season the boys have experienced a clear advantage with the wind and we learnt our lessons late. The opposition’s long kicks went over our heads, our kicks fell short, we made bad decisions kicking out down back, we didn’t work hard enough to run the ball forward or make space, we kicked across goal. Honestly it was our TEAMs’ worst quarter of the year and I can take responsibility for probably my worst quarter of the year as coach. Rookie mistakes! The result was 6 scoring shots to none, Bentleigh used the wind to perfection and our boys found themselves a few goals down going in to the half time break.
This quarter wasn’t a total loss, we saw some positive footy from Captain Jack Breen who gains confidence every week and fearlessly gets himself into the packs and is improving his disposal to team mates in heavy traffic or in the tackle. Great to see! Baxter, Harry and Ollie worked tirelessly in the back line against the tidal waves from the Demons while Raph manned the square and touched a few balls that would’ve been further goals to Bentleigh. Sebastian, Daniel, Will and Lincoln all worked hard in the midfield and the forward line saw almost no footy.
At half time we discussed what was going wrong and the fact that we now had that wind the next quarter. The boys kept their heads up and started positively keeping the ball trapped in our forward most of the half. Seb, Lincoln and Jade worked well in the forward zone but we couldn’t get it through the big sticks. Magnus almost snagged one from the pocket and we had 5 behinds to show for a lot of effort. Eventually Lincoln broke free to score our second goal. The midfield ensured little opportunity came for Bentleigh and we had chipped away at the Bentleigh lead.
In the last quarter we were up against the wind, the coach was onto it this time and we prepared the team for another Bentleigh attack. We anticipated the long balls, we ran the ball into attack and kicked to advantage. Our Under 8’s in Luke and Spencer, along with Lincoln and Toby all showed great fitness, resilience and commitment in their 8th quarter of the day. Bentleigh managed to scrap a few goals but our efforts and team work late in the day really was a positive way to end.
Tough day of footy for our boys today but a few lessons learned. Bentleigh were the better all round side and played tough footy. We had multiple injuries today and our trainer was kept busy with ice, band-aids and no more tears, at one stage we had one being treated and two casualties in waiting. The most unusual injury today was Ollie who was taken out by the flag bearing goal umpire, copping the end of the flag in the ear as he tried to bring the ball back into play. Ollie recovered and came back on to be one of our best players today which was great to see.
Awards This Week:
Outstanding Contribution – Oliver (Ollie) Ries, in todays game Ollie was an influence in every quarter. Today’s focus was winning your contest, Ollie stayed in front and in the contest when ever the ball was in his area and he had plenty of valuable touches in every quarter. Great game and one of our most consistent today.
Guts and Determination – Chris Wormington, I gave Chris a job today to ensure he used in strength in the contest and ensured he was holding his line in the thick of play. He obviously listened as he had some fantastic efforts to today where he gave me glimpses of the dominator he could become. Chris is heading in the right direction for someone in his first season of footy and each week starts to understand his strengths.
Completely Smashed It- Wil Licheri, I have seen a change recently in Wil’s focus at training, his competitive side is starting to blossom. His training efforts are paying out on game day. Today Wil had his best game of the season, attacked the ball, attacked the opposition and gave me second and third efforts which is hard to teach. Great game today lots of hard stuff.
Hard Ball Award – Fletcher Ockerby, today Fletch was another one of our consistent contributors, he put his body on the line all day and never gave up. Fletch is one of our utilities that can play all positions well, today he was one of our best for four quarters doing all the little things that make him so valuable to Team Yellow.
SMJF Award for Overall Team Contribution – This one off mid season award I gave the Baxter Moss. Baxter does everything a coach wants, he practices his skills outside game time and training, he always listens to instruction with eyes focused on the coach, he never talks when the coach is, he trains like he plays always focused, clean, reliable and follows instructions. Baxter is a great team mate and all round solid player he is a fitting recipient of the SMJF Award for Overall Team Contributor.
Special Thanks – Luke Kollmorgen and Spencer Ries for staying back after their game to help fill our team sheet and get a few more minutes out their for the Rovers! Hopefully the benefits were mutual!