For the 2nd week in a row, our opponent was the Manly Bombers (MB), this time back at home. Our side took on a similar look to the previous week with only a
couple of changes. Unfortunately Lewis Thame arrived for the warm up, but a loose tooth forced him to miss the game. MB was down on numbers so we leant a player to them to even the teams for a 14 v 14 game. The boys were expecting another tight contest after last weeks narrow 5 goals to 3 goals win. With Harry Latus wearing the MB jumper in the first quarter, it began as a battle of the two half back lines. Harry continued to intercept any forward entries we made, whilst Oliver Meichan had 5 marks in the 1st quarter for the Cats, constantly reading the ball well and intercepting the MB forward entries. By the end of the quarter, MB with the aid of the breeze led by 1pt with both sides only kicking 1 goal each.
The game was on a trajectory to go down the same path as last week and so the reminder came for our boys to find a level of competitiveness to match the opponent and get things going our way. An early goal to MB against the breeze felt like it was on the back of some efforts that were not at the standard this team must work towards. We gave up front spot too easily, let our opponent lead us to the ball and then wanted to fold back rather than pressure the opposition. Fortunately our midfield turned up the work rate. Led by Hudson Savage, Harry Arnold, Xavier Coker, Noah Tops and this week joined by Lucius Pimpini, we clawed our way through the contest and got the ball forward a number of times.
MB had a spare player behind the ball, but they looked vulnerable to our pressure. However we failed to capitalise ahead of the ball, with a forward line not being clean with possession and working as individuals. We got in others way, failed to release the ball to the open player and at times too our approach was too casual against an opponent determined to win the match.
The half time break allowed for a reminder on forward line stoppages and the role of front and square players at marking contests, specifically not to get past the line of the ball. We held a 1 point lead, with more needed. The response we got was terrific. Hudson Savage & Harry Arnold were in everything. They were on top through simply getting their hands dirty and winning the contested ball over & over and getting it to the outside. Harvey King had gone forward and looked lively on his attack on the ball and narrowly missed a couple of shots. Noah Tops continued to run hard and help our defence. Angus Moten looked more composed with the ball and changed angles off the half back line, but it was Shane Zhang in defence who was enjoying the game of his life. He won his 1v1s, attacked the loose the ball and impacted the contest with some great fight and desire. His decisions were right given the outcome to nullify the MB attacks. It was his best game ever for Lane Cove Cats and as the coach I was very impressed.
A highlight of the 3rd quarter was a Forward Stoppage goal. This was a direct result of listening to the half time message and executing the play. Brilliant
everyone! The last quarter was an arm wrestle and I was yelling for everything to be tidied up. In the end our persistence around the contest and run delivered us another victory. A pleasing result for the boys, coaches and parents of Team Henry.
A special recognition to James Graham who unfortunately hurt his knee during the week. James still attended the game and cheered on his teammates. This was great to see. Hope to have you back out there soon Jimmy!
Goal kickers: Harry Arnold 2, Zac Holgate 2, Jude Lumley 1
Final Scores: Lane Cove Cats 5.5.35 defeated Manly Bombers 3.5.23
Outstanding Effort and Influence on the Game Award: Shane Zhang
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