With the wet weather holding off just long enough, the Selwood U10s were able to get in a game of footy at the spectacular, but rather windy, Middle Head Oval against the Mosman Swans. Unfortunately for our boys, the view of the harbour from the Oval was prettier than the football.
In previous years the Mosman Swans haven’t been the strongest side and games against them have tended to be a bit of a confidence booster for the Cats. It would seem, however, the Swans had benefited from a couple of early draft picks and some clever recruiting in the off season, because this team was anything but easy.
The first bounce saw their ruckman palm the ball to a Swans mid-fielder, who ran a few steps before executing a perfect pass to a Swans forward in space who took an uncontested mark. He converted easily. Any misconception that this was simply luck was quickly dispelled when the sequence was repeated at the next ball up. Selwood is a young side, and their ability to compete against some of the bigger and more polished sides requires the whole team to buy in and compete for the ball.
When we do this, we can match it with the opposition. But when the opposition is left unmarked, or not needing to compete for the ball, then we can be easily outscored by skilful opposition, which this Swans team was.
After the Swan’s second goal Jonti was moved into the midfield to put a bigger body in the ruck and Ryan went into defence to provide more of a contest. This rejigging of the team improved our competitiveness, with the Swans only scoring one more goal for the quarter, notwithstanding the benefit of a very strong wind.
Selwood lifted in the second quarter and were able to hit the scoreboard relatively early. This was in large part due to the determination of Ollie L, who fought hard for the ball all game, and was able to get into space long enough to kick a well-deserved goal. Jude was also able to kick a great goal, by getting his hands on the loose ball and slotting it through.
Too often however, there were too few putting in the hard yards to back up our players who were competing for the ball, and despite kicking into a headwind, the Swans still outscored us. There were moments of great play throughout the game, however. Parkes took a strong mark in the forward line, a good reward for his hard work. Harry, playing only his fourth game, is improving rapidly. He made some strong tackles, got the ball in space, and had a good shot on goal, which was thwarted right on the line.
We got our third goal in the third quarter, Jonti taking a great intercept mark in the mid-field, executing a perfect pass to Oscar who got himself into space, and took a really strong contested mark. Oscar was 25 metres out, on a 45-degree angle into a strong headwind but his kick was pinpoint and straight through the big sticks. Oscar was one player who competed hard all game.
Jonti’s play was one of the highlights, he took a number of big grabs, often intercepting the Swan’s passes. His presence caused the Swans coach to call out to his players, “watch out for that number 9, he’s beating you all game”. He also competed hard for the ball and tackled hard when he couldn’t get it. Ryan, as always, was fierce. He was first to the ball, and regularly got through the opposition into space. His tackles rocked the opposition, and his determination to run and chase down the loose player saved more than one goal. He was a very well-deserved recipient of the coaches awards this week, although Ollie L’s effort throughout the game almost got him across the line.
Archer’s silky kicking and strong hands also deserves a mention. His passing, particularly from the backline got us out of trouble more than once. Ivan, playing against his old team, took some strong marks, and played well all game. For the first three rounds I have praised our boys for their consistent effort and determination to get to the ball. They have really done the club proud. We have been able to outscore bigger and arguably more skilful opposition, simply because of our teamwork and determination. As a team we dropped off a little this week, left too many Swans players unmarked, which you can’t do against a team that has the skill to use the ball well, and were too often second to the ball or had too few
competing for it. Some of our players played well and competed hard all game, but the effort was not consistent across the team or across the game.
I’m looking for a big effort this Sunday against the Manly Bombers Mustangs. We return to our home ground where maybe the view isn’t as pretty as Middle Head Oval, but hopefully the way we play our footy is all the spectacle we need.
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