This weeks round had the boys head to Manly for a match against a side that we have regularly played and regularly shared the wins and losses with. Manly Bombers (MB) is a very even team, similar to Team Henry, so it was expected to be a tight tussle form the outset. The game never disappointed the supporters from both teams.
After a rigorous warm up, we looked sharper and prepared to start well. Our match focuses were reinforced; 1) Influence Contest, 2) Drive your legs and 3) Release the ball to the player in space or go long. Lucius Pimpini was awarded the Captaincy after a very consistent start to his season and led the boys out. He would go on to have a great game working hard on his off-ball running and giving us a versatile target up front in the forward line, finishing the game as our
leading goal scorer with two to his name.
Both sides had slightly different starting positions and this meant the team to strike first would dictate the positioning. Our boys did just this, with our midfield rolling up their sleeves from the start and sending the ball deep into the forward line. Through perseverance and the ability to get regular entries into the forwards we were able to hit the scoreboard with two first quarter goals. MB kept challenging, but our defence was on top, marking and spoiling (James Graham) anything that passed the centre circle. The 2nd quarter was a complete reversal and it was MB who struck back, beating our boys to the ball, playing in front, intercepting and running hard. We looked flat chasing and as the halftime sounded Team Henry held just a 1pt lead.
The match was alive and the challenger evident. We needed a response from all the boys and delivered a simple focus to “Want the ball, beat your Opponent.” Our forwards needed to fight for front spot at all times. There were plenty of opportunities, but we were giving up front spot too often. Hit back we did and in our best quarter for the match our players took it to the opposition scrapping away at the contest, tackling with aggression, intercepting marks (Noah Bradshaw, Harvey King, Oliver Meichan all terrific) and taking on any opponent no matter the size and making sure the ball became a contest. It was inspiring to watch the way we took up the challenge. We finished with 3 goals and only a late one to MB, kept them in the contest going into the last quarter.
The fourth quarter was an arm wrestle, our pressure remained high and our ability to cut off the MB exits with Angus Moten, Noah Tops and the “everywhere man” Harry Arnold, meant our link players Hudson Savage & James Hughes could distribute the ball well to a stronger looking forward line. Thomas Ogier & Aaron Ball got on the end of some kicks Inside 30 and the ground level pressure of Lewis Thame gave us a final quarter grip that only saw us add 3 points to our score, but we kept MB scoreless.
Whilst many parts of our game remain a work in progress, it was our composure with the ball and decision making that at times undid the grunt work to win the ball from the contest. This will improve along with the forward’s ability to hold their field positioning. The boy’s energy was outstanding and this must remain if we want to be a strong competitor. I thought our additional Friday night training was of a good standard and the benefits will flow. Great team effort everyone!
Goal kickers: Lucius Pimpini 2, Jude Lumley 1, Hudson Savage 1, Noah Tops 1
Final Scores: Lane Cove Cats 5.6.36 defeated Manly Bombers 3.1.19
Outstanding Effort and Influence on the Game Award: Oliver Meichan
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