The final round of the season found Selwood at the excellent facilities at Gore Park Oval. Willoughby is traditionally a strong footy club, and the boys were expecting a tough game from the Wildcats. This coach knew that if our boys were going to compete we needed a full team performance.
The ball finally went up to start the game, and despite a strong effort from our midfield, the Wildcats were able to get the ball in to their forward zone. The Wildcats had a couple of big strong forwards, and one of them was able to use his strength to break free into space, and kick a big goal from long range. After the next centre ball up, the pattern repeated. Despite some fight from our mid-field, the Wildcats were able to get the ball into their forward zone, and after some short resistance the Wildcats had their second goal. This coach was worried. Selwood just seemed to lack a little of the intensity they showed last week. I called on them to lift, and make the Wildcats work for their goals.
Slowly the Selwood boys started to respond. The midfield, which combined so well last week, started to get some ascendency and get the ball forward. When the ball did get into the Wildcats forward zone, our backs were able to repel their attack, with Ryan particularly effective at getting the ball out of the danger zone, with excellent help from Ivan, Ollie and Aza. With the lift in intensity Selwood was able to score their first point, although unfortunately it was just a point. Our forwards were moving too far forward, so when our mids were able to get ball forwards, our forwards were too far out from goal to put much pressure on the score board. The rise in intensity however meant the Wildcats only scored one more point for the quarter. In the second quarter the Selwood boys were on from the start. The competition in the midfield was intense. Ryan, now in the midfield, was scampering out of congestion, our two Ollie’s were hard at the ball, and Ivan in the ruck was playing with the courage and intensity we know and love. The mids had to work hard to get the ball forward, but finally we got our first goal thanks to a great run out of congestion from Xavier, who got into space and kicked a great goal. He followed it up with a behind shortly afterwards. Xavier loves getting the ball in hand, and is always willing to work hard to get it. Hamish also had a shot on goal, which just missed. If our mids and forwards were working hard, our backs were enormous. Harry in particular was everywhere. He took intercept marks, fought hard for the contested ball, and tackled any Wildcat who had the temerity to pick up the ball. If he didn’t win the ball with his first effort, he followed up with another. He wasn’t alone in his fight however, with Oscar playing a terrific quarter, Jude using his size and strength to win the ball, and Jerry tackling hard, and getting the ball out of the danger zone. The effort of our backs meant that the Wildcats were limited to a single point for the quarter.
With our backs moving into the midfield in the third quarter, the intensity didn’t let up. Jerry peppered the forwards with great penetrating kicks. Oscar taking intercept marks, and winning the congested ball, Harry all over the Wildcats with unrelenting pressure, with Jude playing fantastic in the ruck. The third quarter however was the Ryan show! He kicked three goals two for the quarter and refused to let the Wildcats get the ball out of their defensive zone. The opposition coach could be heard to yell, “keep the ball away from number 24!” His best goal came from a big kick out of midfield from Jerry. Ryan ran back with the flight of the ball hotly pursued by a Wildcat, Ryan calmly took the mark, and then slotted the goal. He was very ably supported by Ollie M, who just missed from long range, but was hard at the ball all match and played a fantastic game, winning lots of possessions, and tackling fiercely. Aza and Ollie L also came close to scoring, and really worked hard for the ball. As always it was the effort of all the forwards that allowed Ryan to dominate the way he did. When the ball did threaten to enter our defensive zone, our backs were quick to thwart any attack, Jonti in particular taking a number of intercept marks, and tackling any Wildcat with the ball. Archer, Hamish and Xavier were powerful support, and together they helped keep the Wildcats scoreless for the quarter.
The Wildcats lifted in the final quarter. They proved that if given a little space they could move the ball very effectively, with some very strong kicking and marking. They were able to add to their score with two very impressive goals. The intensity of the Wildcats was met by Selwood however, whose pressure was relentless. When the ball was in the Wildcats forward zone, our backs covered their opponent like a blanket. Harry, Ryan, and the Ollie’s made the Wildcats have to fight for every possession. Our mids were able to win enough of the ball to keep our forwards active, although the Wildcats defence was holding strong. Oscar took a couple of great marks in the forward zone, but undoubtedly his play of the day, and the goal of the match, came as the result of a hurried kick out from the Wildcats goal square, with the ball going out on the full in the corner pocket. Oscar took the free kick, and from an impossibly tight angle kicked a banana that would have made Dusty proud, and neatly curled through the goal posts. Our last two games were undoubtedly our best for the season. The whole team effort was brilliant, and showed that when we play as a team, Selwood is very hard to beat. The team song was sung loud and strong, to celebrate a great win and a great season. Coach’s awards went to Xavier for his efforts all game and a great goal, and Harry, for his relentless pressure, and second and third efforts at the ball. Ryan was very unlucky not to win this week, as even by his very high standards he played an extraordinary game. Oscar was also very impressive, playing possibly his best game for the year. In truth there was not a weak link on the team this week, and the boys should be very proud of themselves. A big thank you to Andrew, our team manager for his excellent work all season organising the team and the parent volunteers (and the coach). Thank you to our parents, who were great support all season, we were never short of volunteers for the BBQ, ground set up, and goal umpires.
Thank you everyone for a great season, I loved it, and I hope all the boys did too. I look forward to seeing everyone back next year!!
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