Round 8 saw us play Pittwater Tigers for the second time this season, after we beat them in Round 2. The Tigers were still licking their wounds from their Round 2 loss, being their only loss so far this season.
We gathered on a very fresh Sunday morning at Narrabeen, even experiencing a light shower as we arrived for the game. Our master negotiator/Coach had organised enough players for us to play with 12 on the field, given we had a few of our regulars out of action. Both teams agreed to play on the full-length synthetic field, which made a huge difference to both teams, really opening up the plays and creating loads of opportunities for boys that had a bit of speed and skill.
The Tigers were super keen from the first bounce, and ran the ball downfield for a quick shot at goal. Their shot went through for a behind, and we counter attacked. This is when the boys seemed to realise they had a game on their hands, and they all increased their tempo.
We were fortunate to have Lucius play for us again, as well as his brother Elliott. Joining us for the first time was Olly. All three boys slotted straight into the team quickly, and seemed to be wearing ball magnets. They were into the packs, clearing the ball, taking some great marks and often running with the ball in clear space.
With our usual ‘tall timber’ players being out, our players adapted really well. The tackling was noticeably better this week after Coach Chris helping explain to the boys they needed to wrap the opposition players up, and the boys shut down a load of Tigers attacking plays really well even when the Tigers kicked to their tall players/boy mountains. There were many times the boys were in a pack, and quick feet, a few swerves and quick hands saw the ball come clear.
The first quarter saw Finn kick his first goal of the season and also saw Nick kick a goal. Both kicks were really strong and good teamwork created these opportunities. Quarter time saw us leading 2/1/13 to 0/1/1. Coach Chris reminded the boys to ‘hit their targets’ – look for their team mates when they were kicking the ball forwards.
The Tigers came out hard again for the second quarter. You could tell they weren’t happy with the scoreline, and they really lifted their intensity. Our boys realised this, and also lifted. Again, our boys were able to counter the Tigers attack, and then send the ball into our forward zone. Some good defending from the Tigers stopped us from scoring, except for a great piece of play from Harry. Harry was in space down the left wing, on a tight angle. He saw Tom unmarked in the goal square, and kicked to Tom. A good mark and a steady kick resulted in a goal. Half time score saw us leading 3/1/19 to 1/1/7.
They often call the third quarter the Championship quarter, because whoever wins this quarter most likely wins the game. By now, our boys knew the Tigers would come out strongly after oranges, so they started really well. They were all hard at the ball, running into space, chasing and tackling players. Jamie went into a pack in the forward zone, somehow came out with the ball, sidestepped 4 defenders and kicked a great goal. Our newest player, Olly, also did a great job of getting the ball in traffic, and managed to kick 2 goals on debut! At three-quarter time we were leading 6/2/38 to 2/1/13.
Coming into the last quarter, our boys relaxed. They were already thinking of singing the Club song to celebrate. The Tigers jumped us, ran down field and scored a quick goal. With 9 minutes to play, the Tigers parents roared to life, and the Tigers players jumped around as if they had won Lotto. The Tigers seemed to have extra spring in their steps, and were finding enough space to keep pushing the ball downfield.
Our mids and defenders continued to work hard. Luc, Harry, Lucius, Nick, Danny and Finn were all amongst the packs, and laid some big tackles. Harry seemed to be in every play, and kept running all game. Harry loved the extra space, and enjoyed pinning his ears back, running forward, bouncing the ball, dodging the opposition and kicking us forwards. He also had good footy vision to see where his team mates were to then kick to them. Harry chased down a number of Tigers that had the ball, and Harry was awarded a number of free kicks for the Tigers holding the ball.
Zac also had a powerhouse of a game. He read the incoming balls really well, went into some big packs, cleared the ball and laid some important tackles. Zac also found himself in clear spaces, often bouncing the ball he had so much time. In the last quarter, Zac took a great mark then kicked a goal.
Final score saw us take the ‘win’, with the score being 7 goals 2 behinds 44 points to 4 goals 2 behinds 26 points.
It was a very physical game, and the Tigers were trying to get on top of our boys all game. Again, to the credit of our boys, they played good, strong footy, played the whistle and conducted themselves really well.
Coach Chris had a reminder for the boys to hit their targets – look where they are kicking to. We learnt that if we just kick the ball without looking, a lot of times the Tigers would get the ball, and bring it back quickly. This is a difficult skill to master, given most of the teams we have played are hot on our heels. So one to work on and keep focussing on.
A special thanks to Lucius and Elliott for playing for us. They both had crackers of a game, with Elliott sharing the Mark of the Day award given some strong marks he took under pressure.
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