The Cockatoos had their second tough match in a row, this time against the Manly Spitfires. The Cockatoos were missing two very good players in Ollie and Jerry, and Jonti played, but had to get out of his sick bed to do so, so lacked a bit of his usual energy and pace. The first quarter our lack of speed and commitment allowed the Spitfires plenty of ball and space, which they used to very good advantage.
The Cockatoos can be very proud of the way they ramped up the pressure after quarter time however. Whilst the Spitfires were still the dominant team, our boys started to play with passion and conviction, getting their hands on the ball, and putting pressure on the opposition when they didn’t. Ryan tackled ferociously and often pinned players much taller and bigger than him. Aza also joined in making a number of effective tackles, and getting free kicks as a result. Ivan took some great marks and great tackles. Despite being sick Jonti continually cleared the ball out of the defensive zone with his big left foot kick, always kicking to our advantage. It was also great to get Oscar back, as his run both with and without the ball, and willingness to chase and tackle really stood out.
My favourite moment of the game however came shortly after half-time. I had just spoken to the boys about getting tackled with the ball too easily, as Manly repeatedly got free kicks awarded because our boys would grab the ball, but take too long to dispose of it, or run. I urged the boys to move when they gathered the ball in a pack, and it was much harder to tackle a running player than one standing still. A few moments later Ben gathered the ball out of a pack, and took off at high speed. The spitfire’s biggest player went to make the tackle, but instead was confronted with a huge fend by Ben. Three other Spitfires tried to bring Ben to ground but he used his speed, strength and that mighty fend to hold them off, and run into space! A brilliant effort by Ben, and it gave our boys a great example to follow!
This upcoming Sunday we are back at Blackman Park up against one of our other U9 teams, the mighty LCC Blicavs. If the Cockatoos bring the same ferocity and commitment they did for the final three quarters against Manly, then the Blicavs are in for a tough match!
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