Today we played across the great expanse that is Boss James Oval, our training ground and the place we call home. The Sandy Zebras came down today and we knew we had some fantastic competition after meeting them in the pre-season. The Zebra team were tall, fast and well skilled across the ground and from discussions with their coach they seem to be one of the top sides in our division. Great test for our talented young team today.
Tom Hollingworth and Lincoln Sharpe led us out as Captains today and won the toss sending us towards the Bluff Rd end of our modified ground. Today we had some simple rules to follow, run in numbers, make space when we have the ball and play from the front at all times. I wanted six of our hungry boys attacking together in each zone anytime a loose ball fell.
Today was our first game with two on the bench and I thought we could try a new rotation system to avoid anyone spending much time of the bench. We rotated boys off continually in 4 minute cycles which seemed to keep everyone fresh and switched on.
The game today was really hard fought by our boys, I can assure you the Zebras matched us for skill, had us with height across the ground with a few giraffes close to 6ft (seriously!) and they were a well drilled team that moved the ball quickly. In the first quarter the ball was predominantly in the opposition half but they only managed two goals and a few peppered behind while we also missed some opportunities early before Jake Ring and ran the ball from our midfield to his partner in crime Jody Cripps who kicked a great running goal in heavy traffic. The backline held up really well with Magnus manning the square, Tristan keeping the heat on his player all quarter while Theeran, Lincoln and Harry pumped the ball back to our mid field time and again. Toby Clarkson fought really hard in the midfield all quarter but was getting swamped by Zebras at every contest.
At quarter time we identified that we could improve on our collective attack on the ball and needed to lift as a team. We did exactly that, the midfield worked really hard and dominated the quarter, Ollie Ries had a fantastic quarter running hard, attacking the ball and opposition collecting some damaging possessions. He was supported well by our mid six of Magnus, Lincoln, Theeran, Tristan and Harry all playing their parts for the quarter. We kept the ball in our forward half much of the quarter and eventually Toby and Seb worked the ball from the bottom of the packs out to Nate Jongen who rolled onto his left foot to level the goal scores to two a piece. Standout quarter again from Toby Clarkson just relentless at every contest on boys twice his size! After a great quarter of pressure and team effort the Zebras also managed to score one more before the siren.
In the third term we brought our Raph into the ruck supported by the triple J’s Jade, Jody and Jack with Daniel and Baxter playing wide. Raph competed really well again in the midfield this week getting his hands up an on the pill. Baxter found space on the wing where he likes it Daniel and Jack attacked the Zebras at every opportunity. The forwards had plenty of ball but couldn’t manage to get one through the big ones. Tom and Fletcher looked dangerous but the zebras defence was tight and getting clean kicks was tough. After another tough quarter we let one more Zebras goal slip through.
Last week we were down by 5 goals at three quarter time and we finished 4 gaols to none in the last quarter almost pinching the win. Could we do it again today?
Chris and Campbell came into the ruck and provided solid contest Jake, Toby, Seb and Nate looked like a pack of hyenas after the Zebras in the middle and I was confident we could do some damage to the score board again. The fight and effort from the boys today was great, heads held high and never dropped the intensity, the ball spend a tremendous amount of time back and fourth in the midfield zone. Eventually getting to our big forward target in Jade. Jade took a great mark and looked to steady the ship for us, unfortunately the kick just missed to the near side. Zebras were also fighting hard and managed to sneak another two late goals on us.
The Zebras were definitely had our measure today and they are a great team of size and skill. Our Rovers matched that size and skill today everywhere but the scoreboard. The efforts form our leaders today was second to none and it’s really pleasing to see all 20 of our boys rising to the occasion and new standard of footy. All the boy’s improving, particularly under pressure, in the contest and lifting the overall intensity of their footy.
It’s the halfway point of our season and now and I’ll now send out a mid-season review to the team and parents about my thoughts for the rest of the season. Today’s experiment with bench rotations I think worked well and I have some other ideas for the back half of the year to provide different levels of development to our team.
Outstanding Contribution – Tristan Gastevich was one of the boys I have noticed really stepping up, while his skills are still developing his attack on the footy and getting in the thick of the play is outstanding. Keep this up mate, it’s the hardest part of footy having the courage to compete. The rest will come with time. Love the work rate!
Guts and Determination – Toby Clarkson (I’m having dejavu!) this guy is just amazing in the packs, think Luke Parker, and Isaac Henney! So gutsy today, taking on the big guys time after time, his wrestles in the middle today we courageous and his tenacity is just great to watch. Never takes a backwards step. One of the best a field today from either side!
Absolutley Smashed it – Ollie Ries back from an extended holiday and found his feet again. I strapped his thumb today after being out last week injured and he played like Darren Millane (ask Dad or google that one!). Another boy who played tough, ran hard and collected a lot of footy. Best contested game I’ve seen from Ollie ever, he followed some key ,messages I gave him today which I just love!
Play of the Day – Nate Jongen has been playing and filling in with us since we were all team mates in U/8. We love having him in the team and he was a really solid contributor today. Kicked one of our two goals and just gave his all for four quarters. Thanks for playing with us today!
Coach U10 Bronze