Middle Head Oval is picture perfect on a glorious autumn day, but as the game nears, ominous clouds gather on the horizon and anything from T-shirt to puffer jacket may be the order of the day. The official photographer is licking his lips at the thought of brooding backdrops and the scribe is thinking about gathering storm clouds as a metaphor for the season to date. Its been a tough start. A loss in the first round in a winnable game, a couple of beatings from the competition heavyweights and a washout on the sunniest weekend of the year, have the team down on confidence and down on the table. Queenwood are a couple of places above us on the ladder, so these are the games that the team need to win to get the season back on track.
The day hasn’t started well. A couple on the injury list has turned in to half a dozen by game time and we are down to 14 on a very fat oval. The opposition coach has looked at her large bench and decided to run the Cats off their feet and the opening ten minutes is a furious affair. The Cats are getting plenty of possession, but are being a little panicky with their disposals and not reaping the rewards. Lucy is back on deck and her ability to find a teammate in space immediately impacts the run of the team. LilyD is mopping up the ball constantly on the half back line and LilyS has obviously been getting some private tutoring from the new Defensive coach as she repeatedly launches 25 kilos like it is 60. The combination of Jaimie and Emma in the forward line is starting to look like a winning combination, Emma on the half forward line making strong leads and gaining possessions and Jaimie as the strong marking forward in the square. Jaimie takes one in the square for the first goal and Lucy forgets which game she is playing as she curls one off the ground into the top corner of the net. Q1 LCC 2.3.15 QWD 0.0.0
The A.R.M.O. has stepped in to the A. Coach role for the day and is giving The Coach plenty of good advice. The quarter time talk is about “control”, using the ball and the time we are generating to be more accurate with our disposals and setting our teammates up for success and for once it appears that the message has been received. The quarter doesn’t start well with an early Queenwood goal, but Emma replies quickly in kind to calm things down. The structure of the team is working better as the players have started to find their teammates more consistently. Helena’s work is momentous in both attack and defence, while her uncanny ability to tackle someone and strip the ball at the same time is fun to watch, most impressive is the fact that she is first back on her feet after a tackle. Tipsy is also having a strong game, propelling the team forward with strong punts from the middle, but catching the educated eye is the non-glamourous work running back to be the last line of defence on a Queenwood breakout. Bronte has been running hard in both attack and defence and is having her BEG (best eva game) with the Cats. Her combinations and disposals are the highlight right up until she takes the mark of the season running flat out and catching the ball inches off the turf (ask your parents, they are like really big millimetres). Martine is another who was paying attention at the tackling lessons and is starting to enjoy the physical side of the game and along with Caitlyn is finding a good place in the forward pocket, not only getting possessions but also playing hard in defense to keep the ball in the attacking 50. Caitlyn’s constant running is rewarded as she breaks in to space to score her first major for the season and Emma’s efforts in a crowded forward line earns the free and another goal. As the quarter nears its end, Lucy presses forward, gathers the ball in the pocket, wheels to the right and kicks the most elegant of goals. Cats well on top. Q2 LCC 6.5.41 QWD 1.0.6
The Coach is keen to point out the second efforts in today’s game. Time and again the forwards are strong in defence, the midfield are making repeated efforts and the defence, well the defence has played well, but not really tested yet. That all changes in the third quarter. Queenwood gets more ball down into the forward 50 and launch a sustained attack on the Cat’s goal. Chop’s super power is to know which way a bouncing ball will bounce. While opposition forwards flail their arms as they are constantly flummoxed by the mysteries of the red ball’s movement, Chops calmly finds her way to the point at which the ball will drop in to the bread basket. Griebs’ super power is to not worry too much about any of that and just charge in. Griebs, Chops, Graiceeee and LilyD along with the midfield dropping back are heroic in defence, time and again simply relentless on the line against bigger bodies. Once the tide is turned, the raiders repulsed, Griebs runs over to the sideline and asks if its ok to run over to the sideline. That’s an automatic trip to the physio tent for the concussion test. While it is great to see concussion being taken so seriously, watching a fourteen year old take a concussion test is like watching a bear ride a unicycle – you are not sure whether to laugh or worry about the bear. Greibs gets the rest of the game off to work on the answers to her questions and with the team down one, the Cats concede
another goal. Q3 LCC 6.6.42 QWD 2.0.12
With all the running on a warm day and only 12 on the field, a bit of the wind comes out of the game in the last quarter. Ash moves into the centre, where she appreciates the company and continues to push hard at the ball. Bronte puts on a beautiful 1-2 on the far wing. Lucy combines with both the Lillies to put on a show of moving the ball down the wing in close company. LilyD finds some space and kicks a lovely running goal. LilyS puts on a brutal legal tackle on a falling player (the video is being sent to the NRL judiciary to prove it can be done). Graiceeee has been her normal busy self, some nice marks in traffic and putting a lot of hard work in to supporting her team mates. Graiceeeee’s progress over the last two seasons is such, that this is now considered a quiet game for her. A strong win by the team and The Coach and A.Coach will be pleased that the work at training is turning up in the game. The most impressive part was the evenness of
the contribution. No passengers today, with each and every Cat contributing both with the ball and without. There is still some work to do, particularly on being the first to pick up the ball in the contest and continuing to improve our basic kicking and catching skills, but all in all a great place from which to rebuild the season and climb back in to finals contention.
Final Score: Lane Cove Cats 7.7.48 d Queenwood 3.0.18
Goals: E. Byrne (2), L. Yates (2), J. Morelli, C. Zeilinga, L. Dorahy
Players’ Player: L. Sullivan
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