After no games for three weeks the Cockatoos travelled up to Curl Curl to face the Manly Spitfires for the second time this year. Last game the Spitfires dominated the game, and this game we were down two players with Jonti out injured and Ivan still away, and Ryan was playing on a sore foot. I was worried that this might be a long game for the Cockatoos. I should have had more faith.
The Cockatoos started strongly, fighting hard for the ball, and regularly winning the contest. Our midfielders, Jerry, Ben and Jack were able to match Manly, and regularly got the ball into our forward zone. Our defenders, Hamish, Ollie and Aza fought hard to contain their opponents. Despite this effort the Spitfires were able to score two goals in the first quarter but with goals to Ryan and Oscar we were able to match them at the end of the quarter.
The next three quarters our boys did themselves proud. They made Manly have to fight for each possession. We saw some brilliant passing, and great marks. Oscar took some great grabs in the midfield and finished the game strongly in the final quarter, with a number of shots at goal. Hamish also marked well and fought hard to get his hands on the ball. In the last quarter playing in defence Hamish found himself taking on two big forwards fighting for the ball just in front of goal. He tackled, scrapped and brought the ball to ground, saving what would have been a certain goal. His kicks to teammates remain first class. Ollie was courageous in getting to the ground ball, time and time again taking possession and getting into space to move the ball forward, no matter what part of the ground he was playing in.
Aza injured his finger early in the game, but played on, making some strong tackles and scrapping hard for the ball. Jerry was everywhere as usual and took some strong marks to add to his great ground game. His speed and courage getting to the ball is essential to our team.
Jude worked his way into the game as it wore on. He made some strong tackles and made great use of that big kick of his when he got his hands on the ball. Ben also had a strong game, and at least two of our goals were the result of his work to get the ball into the forward zone. His game is improving rapidly week to week.
Notwithstanding the fact that Ryan limped to the game, once the adrenaline kicked in he was unstoppable as usual. He kicked a goal in the first and last quarters, and in between tackled, chased, ran, kicked and marked the ball with tremendous skill.
Jack made his presence felt wherever he was on the ground. Not content with making just one effort to get his hands on the ball, he backed it up. When the opposition had the ball, he scrapped hard and regained possession, using his strength to get through his opponents into space (who needs to go around the opposition when you can run through them!).
This coach was incredibly proud of the effort of all of the team this week. They really competed against a team that is one of the strongest in the competition. The team effort made it exceptionally hard to pick the coaches award this week, but for a great effort, and his excellent improvement, Jack was the deserved winner this week!
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