Team Ablett hosted The Willoughby Wildcats at Steve Chisholm Sunday for the first Semi-Final in U11 Division 2. The weather had been marginal during the weekend, but the rain gods reserved the worst of it for the period between about 9:30 and 11:30. When it didn’t rain, it poured, as the saying goes, and the players were soaked through to the skin just from the pre-game photo shoot!
The weather didn’t change the game plan, though, and the match focus points remained the same as they had for a number of games now: structure at stoppages, movement with the ball, and leading and kicking into space. Coach Roger’s pre-game address re-emphasized these and re-iterated the effects the conditions would have on play.
Zak Evans turned up for the game in a moon boot, sadly. His cover and run off half-back was going to be badly missed.
Unfortunately, with the Wildcats only fielding 13 players, there was going to be a lot of bench time. Aussie Rules is a team sport and it is worthwhile acknowledging the outstanding quality of our bench players. Coach Roger had challenged the team during the week to think of the one thing that they bring to the game. Every player contributes what they can, when they can, and that contribution is vital, and rounds out the team performance.
The Wildcats were sharper from the centre bounce, kicking the first goal within minutes. Team Ablett took a little to get into the quarter but eventually got ahead 2-1-13 to 1-0-6. From the quarter time break and with Coach Roger’s “kick it, kick it, kick it”, the Cats controlled the game. A 3-3-21 to 0 second quarter, set the tone for the rest of the game. There were some tense moments, and when Jude went down injured after a heavy tackle in the third, Lucius was moved from CHF to wing, and Xavier was moved back to his natural position at full forward. Lucius’ 3rd quarter snap for goal was outstanding and only shaded by Zac Holgate’s goal from the left pocket. A hasty kick out of the Wildcat’s defence was gathered by James O’Dowd, hand-passed to Harry, whose sweet little kick into the pocket was marked confidently by Zac. He calmly went back and slotted it from a narrow angle.
Final score was 10.9.69 to 2.1.13. The contribution was outstanding from all 19 players. With the statistics sheet a sodden mess that now has become a permanent part of Steve Chisholm Oval, goal scorers as near as can be determined from a spotty memory were Zac Holgate (3), James Hughes, Lucius Pimpini (3) and Hudson (2). Yes, that totals only nine goals, this reporter is certain he’ll be reminded at the next training session of the correct tally from an aggrieved player. Best Defensive Player was awarded to Angus Moten who was tireless and commanding in defence. Team Player was awarded to Hudson for his work around the ball. Play of the Day was awarded to Zac Holgate for his 3rd quarter goal from the pocket.
Team Ablett has a busy week ahead, training on both Wednesday and Thursday evening at Steve Chisholm before the Grand Final on Sunday, which will be held at 9am at Rofe Park Hornsby against Pennant Hills Red. “Penno” have provided our toughest challenge this year, we had a narrow win during the home-and-away, and are looking forward to the challenge of meeting them in the Final. We’re hoping for a large, vocal and blue-and-white contingent to travel to Hornsby to provide support to Team Ablett.
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