Sunday 19th of August saw the U17 Sandy-Rovers travel to Toorak Park, Prahran. This was the Semi Final against first-placed Bentleigh, a team who we have struggled to gain a victory over this season, however as stakes were set and a Grand Final place was on the line, this game was going to have something more.
With the Sandy-Rovers boys pumped-up for our most important game of the season so far, we headed out onto a rather wet and greasy field. With Bentleigh winning the toss and choosing to take the wind advantage, we were under pressure from the very first whistle. With a slippery ball, both teams found it difficult to move it down the field efficiently, resulting in the first quarter scoreline being a close 3-point difference in favour of Bentleigh.
The second term saw our boys gain the slight wind advantage, however this ended up not being a factor as Bentleigh came out firing and gained control early in the quarter kicking the first major. The quarter was slowly clawed back by the Sandy-Rovers as at half time, Bentleigh held a narrow 4-point lead.
With spirits still high our boys headed out for the second half, confident we could do damage in the upcoming half, and although it might not have shown on the scoreboard, the effort shown in the 3rd term was outstanding, as against a heavy breeze we kept Bentleigh to just 1 goal for the quarter, resulting in a very achievable 10 point deficit going into the final quarter.
With the breeze coming over our shoulder from the first whistle, pressure around the ground was immense as both teams struggled to move the ball cleanly. Luckily for us, we worked the ball nicely forward, which resulted in a goal and reducing the margin to 4 points once again. With 5 minutes left on the clock, we peppered the forward line with entries time and time again but to Bentleigh’s credit, their defence held strong, unfortunately resulting in a 4-point loss for us at the final siren.
The Sandy-Rovers showed a valiant effort in a hard-fought game and it was unlucky that it didn’t fall our way in trying conditions. Some notable performances included a best-on-ground from our captain Marcus White off halfback as his contested marking and hardness at the ball was unmatched. Zeb Skellern also played a great hard game, creating many tackles and clearing play that broke the game apart, Cam Morris who played a great tagging role and also used his great decision making to perfection. And lastly Liam O’Driscoll who played a great key forwards game, taking some crucial marks and executing his set shots beautifully.
With a loss at the hands of Bentleigh (yet again), we are lucky enough to have a second chance owed simply by the hard work we displayed throughout the season. We are to face South Melbourne Districts as they won over Murrumbeena in their Elimination Final. We look forward to this challenge now to redeem ourselves after the loss against Bentleigh, as I know our boys desperately want another shot at Bentleigh in the Grand final in 2 weeks time.