You could not have asked for a better morning to travel to Rofe Park to meet the Eagles. The ground and space were huge, and the facilities and people were lovely. It’s also the first game where there has been an actual bench for the interchange players, a fact that the Ground Manager was very proud of. And the weather was glorious, as if the footy gods were trying to make up for the rubbish dished up in round 2! It was even hot – you know it was hot out there when Lucius was discarding his work-safe-flouro-green headgear, and boys were stealing water from their parent’s water bottle.
Lucius captained today and while he wasn’t too keen on leading the team in pre-game static stretches, he didn’t mind leading them on field, and kicking surprisingly good goals. Missing Olly in the mids and Angus in defence, it could’ve been a tough day, but Team Ablett went about it with maturity, and it was only accuracy in front of goal that was average. The Cats scored within the first minute and did not let up till the final siren, despite fielding less players and playing in non-preferred positions.
Goals were scored by Dylan O’Dowd (2), Dylan Fleischer, Harry, Hudson (4), James Hughes (2), James Ross, Lewis, Lucius (2), Shane (2), Xavier (2), but it was an all-team effort. An indication of how far the boys have come this season is in the types of instructions they are receiving at the breaks. Round 1 was “get it on the boot, move it forward”. An example this round was “compress play into the forward 50”, a testament to the boys’ skill and maturity.
One of the key points and a focus of training last Thursday was using power and speed to break past the tackler, straighten up and kick away. A highlight for the coaches was seeing Zak Evans do exactly that and deliver a lovely kick to a leading forward.
Coach Roger used this match as an opportunity to trial boys in alternate positions and to bring more players into the game. Big Xavier relinquished his ruck role to Noah and moved to a power forward position, Jude was moved back to the wing, Harvey moved from defence to the centre, and the O’Dowd twins switched their defence and forward positions. This certainly paid off. Harvey battled manfully even when on hands and knees. Xavier clunked a strong contested mark in the 3rd, and finished it off with a lovely set-shot goal. James O’Dowd channelled Tom Harley and took over the role of backline general, and was awarded Defensive Player. Noah’s good tap work and follow-up tackling resulted in him being awarded Team Player. And Jude was awarded Play of The Day for his outside run, good tackling and teamwork.
Training this week will focus on getting the forwards moving. At times they imitate those statues on Easter Island, and need to learn to move back and forth and across the field as the play flows. The whole game, not just the two minutes after they are reminded of it. In addition, all players need to be re-taught how to lead into space!
Next week is the big match against the Pennant Hills Red U11s at Steve Chisholm Oval at 9am. Pennant Hills are also undefeated, and Team Ablett have had a red circle around this game for some time. This will be one not to miss!
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