Today we played East Sandringham down at Peterson St and the weather was unexpectedly pleasant, very little wind, a bit of sunshine and a nice grassy pitch perfect for footy.
It was our last game of the regular season and we knew we were up against a side that hadn’t lost many games this season. I selected two Captains today Daniel Storey who we had missed in recent weeks and welcomed the return of, and Jake Ring who also had missed some footy through the season and coming back in to form. The boys led us out and I was feeling optimistic of a great performance today as the boys had some spark about them early this morning. We had one late withdrawal in Ollie Ries and readied ourselves with one man on the bench.
This was going to be the boys last regular season game U8-10 junior footy. Next season there will be visible scores, a ladder and finals along with playing without the zones and armbands. My focus for the boys in recent weeks has been getting them ready for that next step in their footy journey. Today our simple focus was to use our possessions wisely, take our time and look for a lead when we mark, and not just kick to the pack. We’ve been working hard at training on decision making with the ball and finding space. That is what everyone of our boys needs to work on for next year across the board! Lots of the boys are really getting this at training and it’s exciting to see it coming into our game.
The last few weeks we have started slow and played catch up footy, usually we’re really competitively in the closing quarters but the slow starts hurt us. I asked the boys to really focus on playing tight down back and working hard defensively in the midfield. I sent our runner Glenn out a few times just as a reminder to the boys to be shoulder to shoulder and stay in front of your man. I was watching closely and the boys were generally doing just as I asked. The only part that didn’t go right was Sandy kicked about seven goals without reply! The problem we had was the Sandy boys were fast, clean with their hands and hardly missed from anywhere, even under great pressure from our team the goals kept going through. The goal count meant nothing to me I was actually quite pleased with the boys application to defence. We were just getting beaten by a better team on the day.
We had a kick in set up, led by Magnus who assumed the kick in responsibilities and I was very happy with his decision making and accurate kick ins throughout the first half. Fletcher, Tom, Lincoln, and Baxter provided great leads away from our DANGER areas and all fought really hard against an onslaught of East Sandy forward drives. The backline was getting a real work out today. The midfield were playing great too, Chris Wormington gave solid body work at ruck and ran hard, Harry, Jade Dan, Campbell and Jody were giving their all under a lot of pressure from some big boys from the Zebras. We steadied with some nice play..kick, mark, kick , mark play on and all of a sudden Tristan Gastevich led out from full forward at frenetic pace, he got hands on the footy, took some heat from the opposition and paddled the ball to advantage, then without taking his eye of the footy regathered and slammed a great goal through the middle of the posts. A lot of teamwork all over the ground resulting in a ripper goal and Tristan’s first for the season! Another great effort in that play, was from Javier who has just started footy but has such an influence on any contest he is involved with. By half time we had scored another two goals both hard working crumbs from Baxter and Jake. Baxter had a standout game today and this goal was reward for really hard work. Captain Jake used his pace to get around the Zebs and snap one through also.
Some really notable performances today were Jody Cripps who had his speedy boots on today and got loose on many occasions. I said to the rest of the coaching team quite a few times today ….gee that kid is fast! The Sandy coach said my exact words after the game. Baxter Moss was another boy who has really stepped up his own game in the last few weeks, he’s been really impressive in close and is a real gem when using the footy he was in the thick of it today. Harry Ockerby starred in midfield and again in the backline swinging onto his trusty left time and again. Tommy Hollingworth confidence keeps growing and it won’t long until we see him taking off with pace and footy in hand. Theeran was influential until coming from the ground injured only to return and give us relief in the midfield. Jack Stefanovic played back an forward today and always attacked the footy he is always another number around and in the pack working really hard for his kicks.
Lincoln played tough burrowing through the packs and tackling hard. Fletcher continued his great form giving us run in the back in midfield areas. Dan Storey warmed up and finish the game with a few marks and kick in a warm up for next week. Sebastion came alive in the midfield and collected valuable possessions across half back. Campbell roamed the wings and provide a link through the mid but had limited supply when down forward. Raph had a quiet game today by his standards but made great contest down forward when his time came, almost took a great grab which I am sure would’ve been a goal. Jack Stefanovic played back an forward today and always attacked the footy he is always another number around and in the pack working really hard for his kicks.
While today we definitely kicked less goals than the opposition, the score board really meant nothing to me today. I was really pleased with the game and I was really impressed the way the boys never dropped their heads and continued to play the game out right to the siren. We started the season towelling up the opposition and then we were regraded to a more challenging division, there are some fantastic footy teams around and East Sandy showed us they are one of them but I know our team have really developed from the experience this year. Our more experienced and talented footballers have had to lift their standard absorbing harder tackles and playing on quicker opposition that run in numbers, our newer and less confident mates have equally had to rise to each occasion and I’ve seen each boy find that something extra in his game. What I know they have found will be far greater in the years to come that what they would’ve gained beating teams by 50 points each week. Winning is fun, but I’d taking measuring yourself against the best opposition you can as the overall objective in sport. Always push yourself and don’t be afraid to get out of that comfort zone! That is where all the opportunity is!
Really looking forward to our last training sessions and next week’s Lightning Premiership. We have a great draw against some teams we beat during the year. If the boys play as well as they did today we should come home a great finish to the season.
Well done all and thanks to all the parent helpers we have each week! Couldn’t have so much fun without you all!
The Weekly Awards
Only three this week, we’ve saved a few for our Lighting Premiership next week!
Guts and Determination – Toby Clarkson who like every week just gets in a does the hard stuff. Today he was always around the contest, crumbing in the forward line and menacing the opposition in defence through the midfield. Everyone in our team benefits from Toby’s in and under play. He is just like a Luke Parker in our team.
Absolutely Smashed It – Tristan Gastevich this boy loves his footy, he always has a smile on his face and I could see his from the other end of the ground today after his goal! I love coaching Tristan he always listens, always tries his best and today all that just clicked. Tristan had by far his best game of the season so many times he was in the mix competing for the footy. He ran hard, always kept his feet under pressure and had some really important possessions today, he hard work was rewarded with a great goal today! Well done capped off a great season.
Outstanding Contribution Award – Jade Doherty, Mr Reliable! Jade is one player I can use in key position where he takes great marks and has great poise in decision making. Today he worked tirelessly in eth midfield and then rested in the very bust backline playing key position back for us. Time and again Jade was rebound the ball from our defence and giving us a target when we were really under pressure. He can really ice the momentum