Father’s Day, Festa del Papa, Dia del Padre, Vatertag … I loved the socks, the homemade pottery showed immense hidden creative talent and the flowers were a little left field, thank you, but what I want, what I really, really want is a cracking game of footy. So bring on the Pittwater Tigers at home and let rip. The Tigers are undefeated, so another opportunity to see where we stand against the top teams. No problem selling tickets to this game and the socially distanced crowd files in at exactly 25% capacity. Sophia has joined us for a game; whispers of a “rugby background”; but we take allcomers here at the Cats and she is welcomed with the presentation of jumper 18 with the ceremonial “see if that one fits”.
Anticipation is high for this match. Armo declares herself “on”, Byrna is rousing the troops in a manner not seen since Joan of Arc at the Battle of Orleans, LilyD has refused a lift to the game preferring a solitary preparation and the new girls are wondering what kind of craziness they’ve let themselves in for. A large bench for both teams means there are no excuses for loitering – run hard until runner Stu taps you on the shoulder.
The bounce triggers a frenzy of activity. It’s apparent this will be the quickest game of the season. The teams are fairly evenly matched, the pace is frantic and the ball is moving from one half back line to t’other. Every ball is contested and contested fiercely. Armo and Tipsy are getting the ball out of the packs to LilyD who is roving it around the back and punting it to the next pack. It takes us back to the glory days of 2019.
Helena’s game has evolved quickly and the team is better for her kicks out of the middle. Lucy is running hard, need it be said? Gracieeee is playing like a veteran having an impact well beyond her experience. The tackles are coming hard and fast. Jaime is in the middle of the packs and Chops is providing the last line of defence and its holding up. The clock ticks 15 minutes in what seems like 5 and the crowd collectively draws its breath. This is worth giving up a roast lunch. Q1 LCC 0.2.2 PWT 0.0.0.
The word of the week at quarter time is “composure” and the change in tempo is noticeable from the start. The speed slows, structure reasserts itself, but the intensity shows no sign of letting up. LilyS is being targeted off the ball – the scouts must have seen her last game. Ash is getting herself into every competition. Laces is on the field and chasing down everything. Sophia debuts on the wing, finds space and takes a mark. The first 5 mins it’s all Tigers as their Route 1 game plan is effective and, camped in the forward line, they score two goals. The crowd becomes moody with this momentum swing, but the Cats aren’t lying down. For the next ten minutes, they play a form of footy that will make all of the highlight reels this weekend. The ball is passed effectively, possession is maintained, tackles are made and ridden, LexieP is busy getting involved, while The Bear is making sure nothing gets past. The pressure tells and Lucy’s running results in a mark in the forward pocket. She is a fair way out, with the breeze against, but she doesn’t hesitate, wheels around the marker and shoots true. Cats are back. Q2 LCC 1.2.8 PWT 2.0.12
At half time there are tears, there are tantrums, there are bruises and scratches, but no one is backing down. Graiceeee is knocking defenders out of the way in one moment and ferrying injured team mates to the sideline in the next. The coaches are insisting that the Cats need to be first to the ball on the ground and its an enormous credit to the team that they continue to go there under sustained defensive pressure. Helena is having her toughest game in the ruck, but battles on. Bronte is on the ball on the close wing and earns plaudits from the Rugby dads for a beautiful flat pass, which the umpire doesn’t appreciate in quite the same way. Caitie is gaining possessions and her game awareness is improving as she finds her team mates regularly. While the Cats are dominating field position, the defence from both teams is ferocious. While its not unreasonable for the principle of self-preservation to cause second thoughts about getting over the ball, it sometimes appears that Jaime doesn’t even have a first thought. In one attack on the ball, the impact registers at the Geoscience Australia facility in Canberra, the crowd winces as one and the St John’s ambos actually leave the tent. The Cats dominate the third quarter, the Tigers are held scoreless again, but there is little reward for effort on the scoreboard. Q3 LCC 1.4.10 PWT 2.0.12
At three quarter time, the game is there to be had and the crowd is on edge. Tipsy’s in the ambo tent arguing with the medic who doesn’t seem to care that the umps are back out in the middle. Usually more given to actions over words, LilyD rises to the occasion and is vocal in the three quarter time huddle. Turns out Sophia can kick as well and the manager goes looking for the contract extension forms. Elin, Maia and Krysta are trying hard, but the ball is proving elusive today. Having mastered the handball, Abby is trying out the tackling thing with good success and Chops has been in the action all day. Armo has indeed been “on”, been in everything and must be close to best on field. But the
Cats tide is receding, the Tigers break the spirit with a late goal, and with another, the game is done.
At full time the team is spent, the coaches are drained, the crowd is flat. The coaches take the team into the sheds (the bench under the trees) and speak of pride. The Cats kept the Tigers scoreless for two quarters and met the intensity of a physically stronger team. The Cats are the only team in the comp to hold the top two to a score, but have struggled to score points against the better teams and that is where the improvement will need to come if the team wants to go deep into September.
The joy of “pack up” on a day like today is that its a forum for post mortem. Like the Roman Senators of old, the parents prefer to reach consensus rather than vote along party lines. There is no need for debate today. Consensus is not reached, it is present. All you need to know is that on this Father’s Day, you made that bloke proud.
Final Score: Pittwater Tigers 4.3.29 d Lane Cove Cats 1.5.11
Goals: L. Yates
Players’ Player: J. Morelli
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