After the raging winds of Saturday and a stiff early morning northerly breeze, the day settled by game time and we were treated to another perfect winter morning at Castlefield. After supporting our U/9 team mates playing in the game prior ,we headed into the rooms to prepare to play St Bedes Mentone Tigers. Last time we met the Tigers proved too good and kept us scoreless in the first three quarters. I challenged the boys to show the Tigers how much better we have become, this was not going to be like last time!
The pregame talk today was simple, we learn nothing new at this stage of the season. We just re-enforce what has been our principles all season. The font and back Danger Zones were hot topic, stay out of the back Danger Zone, and keep the ball in our forward Danger Zone as much as possible. The importance of TEAM and helping our mates, running in numbers and hunting in packs is what we want! Multiple efforts, we never give up no matter what, Play in Front, it was our last game of the year so let’s leave nothing on the paddock today!
The ground conditions were perfect so we wanted to move the ball fast and play on when possible. Today was also Conors’ Beanie Round, I was wearing a plumb new beanie from the club charity and I let the boys know that I would award the beanie after the match to the most courageous player of the day. Not the most possessions, the most goals or most spectacular plays, I wanted to see the boys go over and above the efforts I had seen so far, show me something I hadn’t seen before be courageous in your footy! The challenge was set.
We expected 18 regular team mates today as our 19th man Daniel Storey has finished for the year, but we have a late withdrawal in Jake Ring not feeling well, a big loss for our side as Jake provides us so much run and carry each week. Luckily Nate Jongen volunteered to play up from the U/8’s in our team again this week giving us a full side.
Today I selected a boy as Captain who displays great team values and represents what the club is all about, Sebastian Gelso. Seb is a great team mate, he never misses training, works hard all the time at training and games and is a boy who gives his all week in week out. He is a quiet achiever, fierce competitor, has a heart as big as Phar Lap and always has FUN with his mates. Seb led us out today to take on the Tigers and the troops followed behind on the way to the battlefield. The sense of the last game of the home and away season added an extra element of excitement to today’s game.
The first quarter the boys were hot, Magnus started in the ruck and used his height to full advantage, Jack Breen came in from the wing and provided ferocious attack on the ball and opposition. Jack is new to footy and improves every week, this was his best quarter of the year he was in all the play, tackles, tap outs, locking up the ball in dispute, acts of desperation to win the footy. Awesome stuff! In the back line the same intercity was about, Raph and Harry were applying tackles and pressure in the back line that Mentone couldn’t bare. The tigers were coughing the ball up whenever it went down back. Campbell played in front and was rewarded with strong marks down back, Jade also took a strong overhead grab at Half Back and we saw some amazing end to end footy from the Rovers. Harry to Fletcher to Lincoln to Jody and down to Baxter Moss in the forward zone. Baxter had the tigers on the hop and no one could touch him. He cleaned up a loose ball in the pocket, blind turned on the opponent and pirouetted onto his trusted right boot to snap a brilliant goal. After another centre break to our end by Jody, Nate Jongen started to cause havoc in the forward line eventually breaking a pack and running through to bang home another great goal. Ripping start to the day!
Second quarter, immediately more fantastic link play Toby kicks to Harry who marks at centre wing another kick to Lincoln who directs the ball into the area of Jody. Jody swoops on the ball crosses the traffic and snaps and great left foot goal. The tigers are stunned, who is the team they are playing today???? The tackling pressure in the middle was immense, Toby , Harry, Nate and Seb had 3-4 each and Chris Wormington wrapped up a few with strength and vigour leaving the opposition wondering what was hitting them. Great efforts by the whole team, pressure pressure pressure! A long ball went into the back line where Seb cut through the pack and took a great mark under pressure. We pushed forward and Josh gathered a ball on the wing clean and fast , he got the ball up to Wil Licheri who (pardon the pun) willed the ball into the path of Ollie who gather and converted another Rovers goal. Harry flew for a screaming mark which was paid down back, the ball went out to Theeran where he bombed it into the forward line where Lincoln flew for a mark but elected to punch from behind, Jack spooned the ball to Fletcher and onto Jody who ran into to goal for his second major. Nate, Jade, Toby and Harry dominated the middle with big Raph and Campbell supporting with size and strength around the stoppages. The ball again went forward where Lincoln manage to break free with the ball and slam another goal through the big sticks. This was by far our highest scoring quarter of the year and without doubt the cleanest, team orientated footy we have seen this season.
In the third we went out with a clear focus on finishing off a great start to the game. Many times this year we have dropped our intensity in the final stages of the game. We has 24 minutes of the season left, go hard and leave nothing on the paddock we agreed! Theeran started down back and provided great kicks down the line from full back. This boy has a serious boot on him! Nate Jongen again had the ball on string, Nate has always been a ball winner but his delivery of the footy has taken his game to another level. Ollie had a great quarter in the thick of play and never giving up in the chase or contest. The start of this quarter was very competitive with the ball travelling from end to end, but after much effort Toby Clarkson broke free gathered a spilling ball keeping control and kicking a great running goal in traffic. The tackling again was a highlight, we weren’t giving St Bedes a chance today, seriously great defensive work! Magnus lead out to a loose ball and collected it beautifully and banged a great kick into our forward zone. Great effort from big Mags! Will Licheri again impressed me with his attack on the footy and his ability to come out of packs with he ball. Harry worked hard and marked again down in the forward pocket, he could’ve had a shot and I’ve seen him slot the check sides from training in the very spot, but to my absolute delight he lowered his eyes and spotted Jade above the square in the Danger Zone. Great kick from Harry, clean mark from Jade and a disciplined decision from a young man. Super un selfish. Jade went back and kicked a solid goal from a much easier position right on the siren. This is what we talk about at training and before the game and it’s what will makes these boys great footy players in the future. Love it!
The fourth quarter was a great contest St Bedes Mentone really lifted and we had a very competitive quarter. Magnus hit the ruck again and took a nice mark in the play and moved the ball well, Harry took another flying acrobatic mark like we have come to expect. Lincoln, Jody and Fletcher dominated the midfield again and we looked good. Baxter again danced around his opponent and spun off the play for his second goal of the day. Mentone also scored for their second major of the day but the Rover momentum could not be stopped.
Today was honestly a highlight of the season for me and it had nothing to do with the score. Today I saw some of my season goals achieved and it was seriously satisfying, boys having fun, improving their skills and understanding of the game and most importantly ensuring they come back next year. I wasn’t sure I had achieved these goals until today. What I saw today was 18 boys having an absolute ball on the footy field, they played unselfish team footy, they looked after their mates and hunted in packs, they all did the little things )bumps, tackles shepherds). It was a full team effort! I felt each boy today had their best game of the year. The result of the collective efforts was amazingly good football for boys 8 and 9 years of age. Great to watch and great to be a part of, I’ve never heard the boys sing the song so loud! What a great day at Castlefield. If we take this form into the Lightning Premiership next week anything could happen, look out opposition the Rovers U/9 Yellow are peaking at just the right time!
Conor’s Beanie Award – Most Courageous Award
Jack Breen – I absolutely loved the way Jack went about his footy today. He showed me how much he has improved, his confidence has grown so much and it showed in the way he attacked the footy today. Jack was right in the thick of it at every opportunity and his courage was without question a highlight today.
Mark of Day
Jade Doherty – Could’ve been so many today there were heaps of great marks (Harry’s was great , Lincoln, Seb and Campbell were all important) but the one that stood out for me one of Jade’s. He backed into the pack without fear , kept his hands high and plucked a gem between 5 or 6 boys! Looked a lot like a Luke Hodge of a few years back!
Baxter Moss – Bax has great skills, poise and vision. He loves his footy and I know he has spent many hours kicking that ball with his mates and family. Today his skills really stood out! When he gets an opportunity he uses it so well. Clean, collected and two really great goals today.
Absolutely Smashed It
While Nate Jongen plays for the Under 8’s regularly today he filled in for us like he has quite a few times this year. Nate was brilliant today and he thoroughly deserved the award today. One of the best on ground today. Thanks for helping us out this year Nate!
Guts and Determination
Seb Gelso – Captain today and played like one. I love the way Seb goes about his footy, in and under. Sneaks in and takes a few marks between the bigger guys and today was no different. Seb is a very consistent performer for us and valuable member of our team! Great game today Seb!