We assembled at ELS Hall in North Ryde, having 5 of our regular players out of action. Shane Zang kindly answered the call for extra players. Shane settled in really well, and had a great game. We were fortunate enough that Nick Davies made his first appearance for the season. We also borrowed 2 Willoughby players, so it was game on.
The Wildcats got off to a strong start. A combination of their strong pressure and not giving us any room, plus our boys getting used to playing with some different boys in their zone. Willoughby outplayed us for the first quarter.
Coach Tim needs to bottle his quarter time speech, as it seemed a different team came out to play for the 2nd quarter. We had a number of marks, and a number of sequences of kicks to team mates who marked who then kicked to a team mate who marked it. Tom kicked our goal this quarter, and both teams kicked 1 goal 1 behind for the quarter.
The Wildcats came out after half time, and somehow put more pressure on our boys, which rattled us. Our boys were definitely competitive, with the Wildcats having a few lucky opportunities and a few little gaps, which they converted into goals. The boys had a huge tackle count for the game, and they did a great job of tieing up the Wildcats.
Zac, Cooper, Jamie, Luc and Shane were brick walls in defence, shutting down dozens of Wildcats attacks into their forward area. Zac also flashed across the field a number of times, and stopped certain marks, as he punched the ball just before it got to the Wildcats players.
Nick had his thumb taped up and was under instructions from his dad to take it easy. Nick was so excited to finally get onto the field, he just ran all day and I am sure could have played another few games yesterday. He was running all over his zone, and was often found at the bottom of a ruck, trying to get the ball, or was tackling a Wildcats player to then get the ball back.
Our boys looked dangerous when they got the ball, and had a little bit of space. This stressed the Wildcats out, as they weren’t used to teams coming back at them. We had a number of shots on goal, including some set shots – the boys seemed to feel under pressure on these, and tended to ‘run off the line’ just like Buddy does (partly because the Wildcats kept running off the mark, and ran at our boys, which is a separate issue).
The boys kept their effort up for the whole game. A couple of ‘Falcons’ on the boys heads as they went to mark, didn’t put them off – nor did the really tight tackling from the Wildcats, which often saw our boys driven into the dirt and free kicks given against them. To their credit, the boys kept their cool on the field and kept trying, all game.
Three key learnings:
- Hit your target – a big reminder that even under pressure, they need to handpass or kick to their team mates rather than just boot the ball. Really tricky under pressure, but Coach Chris and Coach Tim keep encouraging the boys to scoop the ball up, keep moving through the pack, then look for a mate
- When you have a free kick or mark, line up your kicks. Go back enough steps, so you can run up, and have a shot at goal, or kick far enough to get to your target. Not an easy thing to do, but we saw when Tom did this, he slotted a goal from a pretty tight angle, quite a way out. There were about 7 other shots at goal we were a bit rushed for, that could have gone between the big sticks (yes, the players on the mark overstepped, but a few extra steps back would have helped give enough space).
- Know Your Player. AFL is a game that needs much tighter marking than soccer/football. Sometimes we weren’t marking up, which gave the Wildcats free space, and opportunities to score. In all zones, we do need to mark up when the other team has the ball, and then break away from our player when we have the ball.
So it wasn’t our day in terms of the final score. But some learning opportunities to work on, as we continue to have fun and learn footy skills and learn teamwork.
Thanks again to Coach Tim for coaching, Shane for playing for us, for all the boys (who were playing with some different team mate combinations) and also for the mums/dads that came along to support the team.
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