8:15am Start, sunny, no early wind and sub 10 degrees down at East Malvern today for our first game back after the long season break.
Training on Friday had a modest attendance due to the end of the school break, and when I asked the boys who did attend how much footy did they got their hands on over the break the response wasn’t overwhelming. School homework got a similar response and a few even elaborated to tell me how well they were doing in the online games. Something called Fortnight and Minecraft??? Anyway our boys need variety and other interests in life, so I took a positive outlook but anticipated some rusty skills for the weekend.
We started the game down a few with Daniel Storey, Jake Ring, Tom Hollingworth away. Ollie Ries a late withdrawal after a water slide accident and foot injury and one of our key ruckman Raph pulling up sick on game day. We called for re-enforcements and our Under 9’s responded with James Jebb and Lachlan Curtis volunteering for an extra game today to give us 17 on the field.
Each boy in our team has been Captain this year so today I chose two boys who trained the house down on Friday. Jade Doherty and Jack Stefanovic. Jade is one of our most serious competitors and just loves paying footy always applying himself, and Jack has really been impressing me with work on his hand and foot skills and moving to space which are coming along nicely.
First half as I suspected we started slow, bit sluggish, not a lot of movement and too few getting to the contest. Fletcher had a great period down back collecting possessions, running to space and rebounding the ball back our way multiple times. He was also perfect in his decision making and execution from our kick outs. Tristan played really tight in the back line and showed great poise in some pressure situations in defence. Jade gave us a Captains quarter from Half Back holding the middle line together with plenty of East Malvern ball coming down. Jody worked really hard in the middle but had East Malvern boys all over him at every contest, his effort was first class. Harry had some great passages of play and marks through the mid area with plenty of centre taps from Theeran. Campbell found some space on the wing and got some good penetrating kicks into our forward zone. Baxter was on the other wing where he often thrives, he took some great marks, ducked and weaved through traffic and caressed some kicks to his team mates along with one great running had ball to a team mate coming past. Our forward line had a lot of opportunity with Magnus a key target at full forward, Lincoln had a few marks to far out to score but we couldn’t capitalize as a team on our efforts in the forward half. James Jebb competed well and showed he has the footy smarts to play up in Under 10’s level a few time I had to ask “who was that!” as he flew for the ball.
Our first quarter was a slow start with East Malvern snagging a couple of goals we would normally stop, one was almost uncontested. My message was simple to the boys get your feet moving and get to the contest. The second quarter was much better but our mojo hadn’t fully kicked in just yet.
In the second half we shifted positions, Javier assumed the ruck duties, Lincoln, Toby and Jade went to the centre and we saw an immediate effect. Toby has a fantastic half in and under all the packs with some great ball feeds to our other mids. Seb, Linc and Jade were often on the receiving end of Toby’s hands and the boys pushed the ball forward. Toby had another standout moment when he took on 4 players towards the boundary chasing a loose ball only to turn them all on the heads and come away with a running play, really nice! Seb worked hard making space on the wing and continued to apply pressure when the ball was out of our hands. Fletcher finished a great game of his with s strong performance in the midfield.
Jody moved forward with immediate effect kicking 3 great goals in a short space of time and we saw his sharp skills come back in the second half. Lachlan had great quarter in the forward line supporting Tristan out of Full Forward and was unlucky not to get a goal. Chris Wormington who was already having a great game after his half down back, positioned himself front and centre over the ball and was rewarded a free kick 20m out on a very slight angle. Chris turned back (looking very Tom Hawkins like) and casually set up for the goal. He walked in and easy slotted his first goal of the season! Chris’s Dads celebration from the sideline had been building all season and he let out a fantastic and joyous cheer “BIG CHRIS!!!!!!”. It was great to see even our midfielders run out of their zone to jump all over Chris and celebrate! I know the whole team including our supports on the side just love seeing our boys getting to experience that feeling of kicking a goal.
The back line was really solid in the second half. Theeran was a standout charging through the stoppages and clearing the ball time and again. Harry had a great period down back and won a lot of contested footy while taking more great marks. Campbell gave us great use from the last line of defence and Captain Jack Stefanovic worked hard to ensure his man wasn’t getting a kick.
At the end of the game the score was not in our favour, only a small margin the difference between the two teams. We definitely had the control of the game in the second half and I think our sluggish start was really the difference in the end. As the game went on each quarter got better and we saw a return to form from all the team. Could be room for improvement in the coaching department? Something for me to think about for next week!
Weekly Awards (only 2 this week).
Play of the Week Award – Chris Wormington primarily for his great goal which was just fantastic to see! But he started down back today where he had some great plays. He has great presence where ever we put him. I don’t think he understands how powerful he is yet or how much he intimidates the opposition. When this clicks he going to kick a lot more goals I can see that!
Outstanding Contribution Award – Sebastian Gelso had a great game today. Playing forward, back and midfield. I moved Seb back when we bled some goals early and his tight play had an immediate effect on our back six. Seb is a great role player for us and team mate we all rely and can depend on. He is always at training and always applies himself to the contest at every game. In the midfield he was one who particularly listened to my instruction about getting the feet moving and making space. Great game today from Seb.
See you all Friday!
HRJFC U10 Bronze Coach