Back at our sentimental home in Castlefield today to face the East Brighton Vampires. 8:30am start, still conditions around 5 degrees, my phone said it felt like 3 degrees and it did! Most the boys in long sleeves except for Raph who apparently doesn’t feel the cold and rocked up in shorts and short sleeves before the game! I was cold just looking at him. Raph just smiled and said he was fine.
After having the pleasure of watching our U/9 Maroon Team coached by Julian Sill last week, I tried an initiative of his where we leave players unchanged in positions at the short breaks and keep the boys in one position for two quarters at a time. We have yet to register a positive result in the Bronze Division so I though I’d give this a go and see if the boys can string together some more consistency during the game with the added bonus of not having to spend the short break changing arm bands which can sometimes take the whole break!
We headed out today with two Captains who having both been starring for us this season, Raphael Leman-Philp our trusty tap ruckman and Jody Cripps our ball magnet and easy leader in meters gained this season. We welcomed a new boy to the club in Javier Cortes for his first game of AFL footy. We went into today’s game with out one of our big guns in Ollie Ries whose hand has pulled up sore again and looks to miss a few weeks.
Our focus for each zone today was the 5 and 1 rule, in an effort to focus on numbers at the contest. In each zone I wanted the boys to think about FIVE at the contest and ONE behind the play defensively in the midfield and back and ONE in the square down forward. The boys seemed pretty comfortable with the maths and all at least pretended they knew how many players were in each zone. Last week we had many fantastic singular efforts but we know we are strongest when we work together like a pack!
The first quarter Rovers were hot dominating the midfield clearances through Raph’s taps down to Jody and Jake. The forwards were getting fed plenty of footy and we had a lot of shots just miss or touched on the line. Jody kicked a well weighted kick from the forward wing to Campbell who marked the hit up Lincoln 15m out on a slight angle. Great vision and control from Campbell. Lincoln converted and we were away. The midfield continued to push the ball forward. Toby Clarkson had another great quarter clearing the ball to Lincoln from the pack where Linc returned the favour to Campbell with a nice pass into the square where Campbell slotted the goal. Fletcher, Campbell and Toby all came close to scoring more but were unlucky with Vampires swooping in to rush the behinds. The Vampires weren’t given many opportunities but when the ball went down back, Jade steered the ship and showed great leadership in our backline. Chris Wormington took advantage of his opportunities and never lost a contest. Baxter and Havier worked well and our end to end set up looked really strong.
In the second quarter we went back out unchanged with a renewed focus on our 5 and 1 initiative. Tommy moved from the wing into the centre and learned some great lessons in close from some of our more experienced ball getters. Tom had some nice touches himself. Tristan showed us more of his dash from the other wing and collected some great possession and hard tackles along with a well earned free kick with his head over the ball. His kick to Jody out wide was just perfect. We continued with a strong midfield performance. Fletcher and Sebastian got into the action down forward. Fletcher’s effort at the ball was first class, he fought hard for two contested possessions, followed up with tackle (effort number 3!) then eventually and mark and goal. Great stuff from Fletch who has been gambling with me at training during goal kicks to get his chance up forward. He seized his opportunity today with a great goal! Not long after Harry collected a loose ball slashing from the centre and bombed one down to Lincoln. Lincoln eventually played on a bombed his second goal of the day after the umpire corrected his angle by just a degree or two! Very precise was. The vampires got one back but we looked as good as we have, form wise this season.
The third quarter we started with Theeran in the ruck and he dominated the contest, he was support well by Jack and Toby in the middle. Baxter started to come into the game with some great marks and follow up play on the wing. Seb continued his effort from the other wing and we had another great contest in the middle of the ground. The Vampires had made some adjustments and started to get the ball down their end . Our backs were under some pressure but Fletcher again worked well with Jody and Jake to work the ball back to the midfield. We let a couple of goals slip through with a lapse in our attention to manning up down back and the game was again a hot contest. Jake went back in the play and collided with to pack leaving the game with some head/neck concerns. Our game day medical assistant was ready and available which has been a great club initiative this season for the good of our young players!
The fourth quarter Magnus took the ruck duties and we moved the Enforcer Theeran down back to support the hole Jake had left in our backline. The competition had really heated up and the midfield was like a war zone or heavy tackles, crashing bodies and rebounding possess from both teams. The Vampires got another goal and the only difference now was the multiple behinds we knocked up in the first quarter. Our forwards had a few opportunities but the Vampires defence was pretty tough and there were no easy possessions. Jade fought hard with Harry and Javier but we couldn’t manage a score. The midfield again saw most of the play with Baxter again popping up across the wing for some great marks and running play Toby and Lincoln fought really hard all quarter and we shifted Jody in late to assist getting the ball down to our forwards. The siren sounded and I honestly wasn’t sure what the score was but I knew it was close.
It was a great game of footy and one which ended with great sportsmanship and a hand shake and cheer with our East Brighton friends. In the rooms I was advised that this was our first win secured in the Bronze Division just a few points the difference today. The boys were delighted to know they can compete at the top Level of our age group and we all sand the song back in the sheds! Great hard fought win today and a great game of footy from both teams. The standard of play, umpiring and all round sportsmanship was just spot on from both sides!
I think the settled positions had some positives and some negatives. We had a really stable few quarters where the boys got to sink their teeth into a position. However I think I can get the balance better to ensure we can apply our strengths in all quarters of the game and get everyone involved across the ground. Something for the coach to contemplate in the coming weeks. Next game is against the top of the table Brighton Beach, I hear they are pretty handy! What a test for us, I can’t wait for this challenge! Bigger they are the harder they fall I always say.
Game Day Awards
Outstanding Contribution – Lincoln Sharpe had his best game ever today. I’ve seen all his games and can assure you of this! Kicked two goals, but most impressive part for me today was 4 quarters of absolute effort and consistency. Never stopped chasing, never stopped tackling, his work rate resulted in plenty of touches and lots of smart choices with his disposals. Very proud Dad of Lincoln today.
Guts and Determination – Jake Ring gave me two fantastic quarters in the midfield where he moved the ball like “the flash”. I’m sure the Vampires only saw a blur as he wizzed past. In addition to Jake’s slashing play, he was great in the packs and just as hard at the contest down back. Unfortunately Jake coped some high contact today and was forced to sit out the last quarter. Great gutsy game today! I’ve touched base with Mum and Dad tonight and they confirm he is okay!
Outstanding Contribution – Theeran Goyal, last week I saw Theeran further stamp his authority on the game with strong play and determination. I also saw him run over behind the play to look after one of his smaller team mates who was getting some rough treatment off the ball. Theeran is one of our team enforcer on the field! Today he dominated possession when he was around it, had great effect in the ruck and was a rock down back when the game was on the line. We need Theeran to keep developing and finding his true place in our team as “the Enforcer” Great game again today Theeran keep up the crash and bash footy!
Play of the Day – Daniel Storey got better as the game when on today. His last half in the back line was a step up. He really attacked the ball in when in dispute, made space and took some great marks down back under pressure. Keep attacking the ball like you did Dan, you’re most effective when your in and under getting that ball. Great effort again today.
Hampton Rovers JFC
Coach U/10 Bronze