After overnight and early morning rain, there was still a little bit of moisture on the ground at The Snakepit during our warm up, the centre square being the main offender, where there where a few puddles, but nothing that was going to cause any major concerns for either side. By the time the first bounce came around the sun had broken through the clouds and brought a little bit of warmth with it and a whole lot of a headache if you were playing down the clubrooms end of the ground on the coaches boxes side! Ahh the joys of living in Melbourne!
After securing our 3rd win on the trot last week, we were keen to keep up the momentum but were very wary of St. Mary’s Salesian as we knew they’d had a fast start to the year and had recently had a few players return after injury. We on the other hand found ourselves with the opposite problem this week in that we were short players after a couple of training mishaps, uni holidays and work commitments making no less than 8 of our best 24 players unavailable this week! Thankfully a bit of depth in our playing group and some arm twisting by head coach, John McCully saw us able to sign up 2 brand new, ready made players and convince our assistant coach to temporarily come out of retirement.
The first quarter was a fast and frantic tussle, both sides knowing that the other wanted to win, it was just going to be a matter of who wanted it more and who could sustain that desire for longer. Both teams had some fantastic forward line entries for shots on goal and both sides battled for the upper hand with ferocious tackling, heavy bumps and high-level pressure acts. We managed to finish a tight first quarter 3 points up on St. Mary’s. At quarter time the messages were clear; keep piling on the pressure and keep trying to play in front of your opponents.
The arm-wrestle continued in the second quarter with St. Mary’s once again making us play accountable football but our backline held firm and only allowed 3 minor scores for the quarter whilst at the other end our mids and forwards were converting their opportunities a bit better for a return of 2.1 for the quarter. Sensing that the game was starting to turn, St. Mary’s upped the physical aspect of their game and made some changes in their forward line, sending some bigger bodies down there for better presence and bigger targets. Strong in their resolve, the backline once again held their ground and like a well-oiled machine they worked their way through trouble to restrict the St. Mary’s forward line from having an impact on the scoreboard.
Going in at half time with a 13 point lead was by no means an easy feat but it was absolutely still ‘game on’!
The feeling in the rooms at half time was that the game wasn’t yet fully in our control but that we could do more to change that and we knew what we had to do.
Again in the 3rd quarter St Mary’s game was fast and aggressive as they tried to reign in our mid field running power to cut off delivery into our forward line. Throwing numbers back behind the ball did them no good though as the 1-2 running patterns of our mids and the clearance work around stoppages proved the turning point in the third quarter. 3.2 added in the 3rd quarter and St. Mary’s held scoreless was almost enough for us to start believing that we had this one in the bag!
Ever the realists though, John and I reminded our charges at ¾ time that anything can happen in 20 minutes if we take our ‘feet off their throats’. Adjustments were made to defence and a few technique changes were suggested and we were away again!
Some tired legs and sore bodies from both sides took the field for the last quarter but there was still plenty of feeling left in this game! St. Mary’s forwards didn’t like the extra attention they were getting from our defenders and their defenders were under siege from our repeated forays into the forward line. Unfortunately our tired legs let us down in the accuracy stakes in the last quarter as we slotted 4.5 to St. Mary’s 2.2, one of those goals coming in the last 5 seconds of play.
We did it! We’d won 4 in a row! A great win by the whole team and a demonstration of just how far we’ve come as a group since January when the overwhelming majority of this team couldn’t even kick a ball! Excellent debuts by Lauralee ‘Loz’ Rinaldi and Kelly Tan and even the old duck did alright down back for a half.
Next week, Swinburne Uni AFC away, very big game for a possible chance to move up another rung on the ladder if another result goes our way too.
Goal Kickers: J. Lloyde 3, J. Price, G. Ratnakumar, S. Cross, L. Venditti, A. Boyd
Best Players: M. Careri, J. Lloyde, D. Walden, J. Collins, C. Bold, A. Panjwani
Round Ten against Powerhouse, today we were looking at chalking up our first win for six weeks. The side we had in was definitely capable of doing just that.
The first quarter we played with intent and were hard at the ball ,our intensity was good and we use the Quarterback to our advantage in our defence with Cross, JMc, Mangoes using the ball well, but unfortunately we wasted our opportunities in the first quarter with Lloyd kicking our only goal. It was a hard fought contest where possession we not easy to come by. At quarter time we were only 7 points down. Our onballers through Hawke, JC, Choco, Goodwin, Gates, Arun were giving us drive but for no reward.
The second quarter was also a low scoring affair our backline was holding up well , just that our forwards were being sucked up to the contest and once we won the stoppage virtually had no one to kick too. Boyd with an a great excellent effort and work rate receive the ball on the wing kick to CHF and then run down to receive the next kick, he marked and kick our only goal for the quarter, Well done. If it wasn’t for out back six the score at halftime would have been much greater than 15 points. We couldn’t question our attacked on the ball, but we needed to take our opportunities going forward.
3rd quarter our backline played well stopping any F50 entries by Powerhouse .We had the ball in our forward 50 for 80 % of the quarter and unfortunately wasted a lot of our changes, We could have also been in front at ¾ time, we kicked 1.4 and this could well have been 4-5 goals, Even though we only kicked one goal through Pricey, we had plenty of changes and were only 13 points down at the break.
The final quarter was played with intensity and everyone was attacking the ball as we moved the ball well and for the first time today and capitalised on our opportunities with great ball movement Crossy kicked out first for the quarter, 7 points down with another clearance and good ball use L.Vendetti kicks another and we were only 1 point down – Go Cobbies. Gumby chimes in with another goal and we are in front for the first time today. But with a lack of concentration Powerhouse steadied and kick the next 3 on the trot – 13 points down, we moved Lloyd to the forward line and he responded with two quick goals to bring the margin back to one point with 2 mins on the clock. We have a game on our hands, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the ball down for another score, Powerhouse wins by one point.
The effort today boy’s was so encouraging and our attacked on the ball all day was unquestionable and unfortunately we didn’t quite get the job done. But there were great signs going forward and if we play with the same intent next week I’m sure we can get the job done and be rewarded with a win against Albert Park.
Goal Kickers: T. Lowden 4, R. Walmsley 2, J. Coghlan West, N. Szabo, A. Wheeler, M. Szabo, J. Blakemore
Best Players: S. Fitzgerald, R. Walmsley, J. Wilson, J. Carrington, J. Coghlan West, J. Mreulje
On another sunny winter’s day last Saturday, we ventured out to Ross Gregory Oval to take on the second placed Power House in a season defining battle. The last time in Round 3, these guys gave us a football lesson, as their strong bodied mids gained first use and ran rampant with their gun FF Nagel bagging 12 goals, as they walloped us to the tune of 50pts at Canterbury SG back in April. With Wombat doing some good sleuthing during the week on their top end talent and most influential, we came up with a plan that we thought could win the game and get our season back on track.
With Albert Park Lake and the city of Melbourne Town in the backdrop, we started well, tackled hard, and with some clean ball use out of D50, we were right in the game early with the scoreboard neck and neck up until half time. I felt we controlled good periods of the play, and with our midfield of Blakemore, Wombat, Mreulje, Peel & Wheeler getting well fed from big Scotty Fitz who was beating their 7ft Irish Goliath, things were looking good at the half time break with scores locked at 31pts each. Our extreme pressure was making them panic, and if we could keep up this intensity for the remainder of the game, we were every chance of knocking them off and sending a cat amongst the pigeons to the rest of D3.
With an early goal within 2 minutes of the 3rd, and Alex Wheeler hitting the post from close range, we were suddenly 7pts up and about to bust the game right open. But this is where we unfortunately dropped off, as our ball use became predictable and slow, with several players missing easy kicks and in particular in dangerous areas of the ground, where Power Houser rebounded successfully and hurt us back the other way when it really counted as good sides do. With Wombat taking a strong mark forward and converting right on 3 Quarter time, we were only 20pts down, but the game was slipping away and we needed to not only get back into the game but reduce the margin also.
Power House then put their foot to the floor, as the margin went out to 6 goals quite quickly and the game was effectively over. To the boys credit, we never gave up, as we kicked 2 in a row and got it back to within 4 goals, but our slick opposition steadied again and extended their lead to 33pts by the game’s completion. I felt there many positives to come out of the game, and if we can sustain the intensity for the full 4 quarters by seasons end and get our ball use cleaner especially through the middle of the ground, we can beat any team in this division which is very pleasing to know.
Keep going boys as we are still right in this and have every chance to not only make finals, but to go deep if our game continues to trend the way it is. To see the 2s put in a strong show was super, and with several players performing well, we have options this coming week to cover Peely & Wishart who are away, and with Dougie Hutchison suffering a nasty concussion. Fridge was super in the ruck all day, punching above his weight and setting up his mids beautifully with some deft rucking skills and a fierce combative presence he was outstanding, as was Wombat in the guts, Lowden kicked 4 and took some huge pack grabs, running hard for his team and presenting all day, Mreulje laid 10-15 tackles and tried his bum off as usual, Carrington gave us plenty of run and carry out of defence, Scoot had his best game for the year and is growing in confidence and doing his coach proud, Blakemore was a cut above, Big Wheels impacted the contest well and held our backline to account, Smurph gave us plenty of run through the wing and was in good nick for most of the game, Bucky & Mitch tried their hearts out as usual, and first gamer James Coghlan-West was the best player on the ground in the first half and is a gun.
Keep working hard boys, as the results will come……..