They say the hardest thing in footy is to handle the expectations of suddenly becoming the team to beat, rather than the underdog. Team Taylor started the season slowing, losing its first 5 games. However they have turned things around with four wins from their past five games, including knocking of the top two teams on the ladder.
Therefore they entered round 15 against Manly (who are at the bottom of the ladder) as clear favourites. It would of been easy to slip into a state of complacency, expecting things to just fall their way. Instead, the boys seemed to have grown in stature with their new found form, while at the same time realising they haven’t got to where they are without hard work.
With this new found confidence, we came out against Manly and played some great team footy. Rather than blazing away when they get the ball, the boys seem to be looking for each other. There was a number of passages which involved 4-5 players over the length of the field. More often than not they ended up with goals.
We have also found a good mix of aggression and level-headiness. Earlier in the season, any aggression came with a loss in focus. The opposition took full advantage most times, resulting in some disappointing losses. That aggression is now comes with an intense focus on the ball, rather than the opposition. We hit the ball hard, and immediately look for team mates, not matter what the opposition throws at us. It is great to see.
While this was a magnificent team effort, I can’t go without mentioning some great individual efforts this week. Samuel Hynes played one of the best games of the year, tackling ferociously, marking strongly and continually feeding the ball out to the runners. The rebound of half back by Xavier Russell is a key part of our team structure and goes a long way to us holding teams to low scores. Plus the maturity of Charlie King, who is now channelling his aggression at the ball, has resulted in him becoming a major threat in front of goal.
But the little things also count. Like the little shepherds or blocks, quick handballs that release our runners into space, contesting every mark, or keeping the ball moving forward even if we can’t get possession.
A win over the bottom placed side wouldn’t normally elicit huge emotions, but I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. We have grown as a team and are playing as one.
Finals here we come!
With that win, we are now guaranteed to make the finals. Our position in the final four is set, and we will most likely be playing the Baulkham Hills Hawks, who are currently sitting in third. That match is schedule for 23 August.
By coincidence, we are schedule to play against the Hawks in the final round of the regular season this weekend. This is obviously an important game, despite the result not changing our position on the ladder. This is the only team we haven’t beaten this year, we need to shown them our new found form and let them know we won’t be push overs come the finals.
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