After watching some earlier games in the wind rain and lightning, I came to Walter Galt Reserve Parkdale expecting to meet Mordy-Braeside in a bath of mud with hurricane conditions. By 2pm in the afternoon we were very lucky to play on a reasonable dry ground and the conditions had tamed to a mild winter day.
We started the day down a few good men with Sebastian away, Ollie still nursing his injured hand and Tristan a late withdrawal. Nate Jongen played up from Under 9’s and gave us the ability field a team of 18. Our Captains today were Jake Ring and Campbell Hardie and our focus for the day was wet weather footy and our recent initiative of getting more players at each play. The Five and One principal. Hunt in packs and attack like wolves (or Rovers!).
The definition of Rover is “A roamer or, A player who is not assigned to a specific position on a team and who play where ever needed”. This is exactly what our Bronze team is really becoming. We have developed from a team that shows great individual performances each week into a field of 18 contributors. The boys are starting to realise it’s not all about kicks and handpasses and it’s not about standing there and watching a stronger mate take on the pack and get a kick. I can see the united effort starting to click with our boys, running in numbers, being an option and running alongside in support. It’s really pleasing to see this movement.
Today we played another strong team in Mordy-Braeside who had also moved up into Bronze Division after a strong start to the season. They were tall, very fast and had some strong bodies out there too. When they kicked the first two goals of the game quite quickly I thought we were in for a tough afternoon. We started slow and a little loose in defence but a few trips out from our Runner Steve Ries fixed that and we shut down the back line after the initial goals that slipped through. Tom, Raph, Magnus and Jake really tightened up on their men and it made a massive difference from that point. The pressure started with them and flowed on up the ground.
Today I sent a new team mate in Javier Cortes (in AFL game number 2!) in for his first attempt as our centre ruck position. He was matched up on some tall more experienced timber from Mordy. I asked Toby, Jade and Fletcher to give Javier some tips in the middle and support their new mate. Amazing Javier went up in the first contest and easily one the tap, second contest win, third contest win…. This kid is a natural and had an unbelievable half of footy in the middle. Lots of touches, tackles and making a contest all over the zone. The midfielders lapped up the taps from Javier and we managed to finish the first quarter with plenty of ball down forward. Toby Clarkson had a great session in the midfield and Campbell Hardie had a great half on the wing gather plenty of possessions and pumping the ball in to our forward 50. Fletcher Ockerby has been building in form every week and his efforts to get to the contest today was as good as I’ve seen. Our forward pressure kept the ball alive Jack and Dan were looking dangerous down forward but congestion made in hard to get a clean kick. Jody laid a great tackle and was rewarded the free kick which he converted into a nice goal. Nate Jongen moved into the midfield and added some more fire power to our already pumping midfield. Chris Wormington provided a great target up front and his efforts in attack resulted in opportunity for others. One spill from the contest was mopped up by Jody and he broke through a tight pack to snap his second goal. By half time and plenty of hard work Jody Cripps had three goals and plenty of hard ball gets.
At the half time break we made a complete change in the team going into the third term with a small but handy lead. Theeran took the ruck duties, Jody, Lincoln and Baxter manned the centre with Nate and Harry on the wings. These boys worked really well from the start and we had a hungry pack at every contest. Baxter Moss had a great stint in the middle getting loose and collecting some great marks playing on to our forwards. Our forward line was being spearheaded by Captain Jake Ring and Jade Doherty and both boys were looking really dangerous. The forward line pressure was again a feature, Tom Hollingworth was throwing himself at the contest and getting some valuable kick back into play. Our tall guys Raph and Magnus continued to bring the ball to ground in greasy conditions. Jake Ring pounced on a few loose balls which he almost converted, eventually winning a free kick from guts play. Jake played on, ran around and nailed the goal. At the end of the third quarter Jade had an opportunity for a goal after the siren that just held up from the head wind.
In the last quarter both teams were fighting so hard and goals were hard to come by. Toby Clarkson and Fletcher Ockery had great quarters down back not giving an inch and just making it hard for the opposition at every ball. Harry Ockery starred in the midfield with damaging possessions from the wing. Jade Doherty worked really hard all game and in the final quarter he was eventually rewarded with a great goal out of a heavily congested pocket.
The Mordy team fought hard and always looked dangerous today, the game was consistent and played at a really high standard. The most pleasing thing for me today was Rovers numbers, 3’s 4’s and sometimes 5’s at the tackle, at the contest and chasing the offensive play. The boys ran hard today off the ball too, getting back to defence and positioning themselves in smart places. That was the difference for us this week, our team out played the opposition in overall effort. Some boys had great games again today, but the standouts were just supported so well by their mates and we look so imposing when flying for the marks, and running down the wing with our mates right beside us. Nearly every tackle the opposition caught us with, resulted in our boys giving off the handball to a nearby player . We looked really good today and the strength in numbers was the best we have produced. It sounds cliché but this was a well-rounded full team effort! 18 boys who played it out as a group and sung the song with arms around each other!
Biggest challenge yet is next week. Brighton Beach, they have been beating everyone convincingly and I for one are looking forward to the challenge!
Outstanding Contribution – Javier Cortes what a game from a boy playing his second game of footy in a tough Division. Ruck work was superb, his ability to read the play and get involved in the contest is quite amazing, and for someone new to the game he has really solid hand and foot skills. Today was a really great game from Javier and we’re really looking forward to his development in our group! Star in the making I am sure!
Guts and Determination – Baxter Moss had a great game today, he played forward and midfield and collected valuable possessions. Baxter really applied himself to the contest today and got his hands on the pill while many boys a lot bigger than him were all around him. I can see his confidence is growing and we are much better team when Baxter is getting kicks as he delivers the ball so well to his team mates.
Absolutely Smashed It- Fletcher Ockerby had a slower than usual start to the season but of recent weeks I am seeing his efforts, performances and effect on the team increase. Last week I could have given him an award and today I felt he played even better. In the midfield he was at every contest and when he wasn’t collecting the ball he was there for his mates, or applying pressure to the opposition. That is what coaches love, the guys that do the hard stuff and never give up! Fletcher is one of those players, worth his weight in our team! Looking for an even bigger game next week.
Lastly I want to thank Ollie Ries who assisted me on the bench today while injured and I should also mentioned dad Steve, who was runner today even though his boy wasn’t playing. Neither had to come out today in cold wet conditions but they did! Thanks from the whole team you both played a valuable part today. I personally think it’s a great moral for kids to learn coming down regardless to be with the team and play whatever part they can! Well done Ries family! Hopefully we get Ollie back next week.
HRJFC U10 Bronze