Under 11 Division 2 First Semi Final

Sanctuary Lakes vs West Footscray

 

There was a bit of confidence in the group at training during the week.  The boys had enjoyed their first taste of finals and were keen on a second course. The WRFL finals system had prepared a set menu and Sanctuary Lakes would be the main course. The boys had not enjoyed the flavour of this team during the home and away season but their coach was hopeful they had developed a far more sophisticated palette in recent weeks or that they were just really hungry.  News spread through the rooms pre-game that “The Lump” would not take the field today for Sanctuary Lakes. The recipe had changed. Like taking pineapple off a pizza, today’s meal looked much more enjoyable already!

We had the entire squad of 23 available for the game this week. Excellent! Leroy would captain the side in his 50th appearance for the Roosters and would share the honour with Angus who had played a blinder in the ruck in his previous game.

 

We lost the toss and would kick with the breeze. The Sanctuary Lakes brains trust obviously dabble in amateur meteorology as we had pre-game, and predicted the breeze to be far more favourable  in the second half.  That’s what happens in finals. Everyone is an expert on everything!  The breeze would give us a chance to get a good start………..Hopefully!

The ball went up and Angus went to work. Even without “The Lump”, Sanctuary Lakes were still a very capable team and their boys went to work as well. A victory today would be hard won. After a few minutes we got our game going with more fluency. Angus was doing a magnificent job in the ruck and giving our mids a real advantage. Vinh was strong and assured in the clinches and fed it out beautifully.  Weston was his usual precise ball distribution show. Kadin and Christian were getting buckets of it out on their respective wings thanks to the work of the midfielders. Felix was starting on a flank today but pushing up to the contests. I can’t control that and don’t want to either. I will use it to our advantage instead. He was in everything and producing his standard win the ball at all costs approach to the game. Love it! We were peppering the goals but kept missing. I was nervous but the boys were unrelenting. Our forward line was getting scrappy and possession was hard to gain. This didn’t deter Jack though as he reeled out of pack and banged through our first of the day. Nice goal! Several minutes later he would produce a carbon copy of his first. We were away! Our backs saw a bit of it in this term but the majority of the play was at our end. Mickey was fantastic with his tackling and leading. He attracts the football and hunts it when he doesn’t have it. Elijah Moon was providing more options down forward with some smart leading. Murphy came on half way through the term and looked much livelier than he did at the breakfast table where it appeared his only achievement for the day would be to get through it without throwing up!

 

Quarter Time                     Sanctuary Lakes 0.2.2 vs West Footscray 2.6.18

 

We had controlled the first quarter but had sprayed it a bit. We knew Sanctuary Lakes were capable of kicking goals quickly so a goal into the breeze would be handy. As expected our opponents came out firing and our backline were seeing the ball a little too much. Samuel was a desperate man in the back pocket and laid countless tackles for his team. Frank was doing likewise. Aaron scrambled in the goal square to prevent them from scoring. Sanctuary lakes were unrelenting. Their number 10 was having a purple patch and continually pumped it back in. Leroy was having a real crack. Quite remarkable when you find out he went straight home to bed and has been crook as a dog since. The pressure was telling and the goals were starting to flow for Sanctuary Lakes. They were back in the game in a big way and it looked like we may be on their menu. Time after time Sanctuary Lakes drove it forward. Cooper was there every time when it arrived and was playing his best quarter for the year. He repelled many attacks and got flattened for his efforts whilst kicking. After staying down for a while he got back up and went straight back to work. Fantastic stuff Coops! Occasionally the ball did come down our end and our kids worked hard to capitalise on these rare events. Zach was down forward and making it very difficult for our opponents to clear it. Jack, Weston and Vinh were following it up and a goal looked a chance. Sean was on his knees trying to win the ball back from packs. Kadin and Christian were ready to pounce on anything that came their way. We would get a chance when Murphy pounced on a loose ball and smacked it straight through the middle. Great reward for team effort. We needed that one!

 

Half Time                             Sanctuary Lakes 4.5.29 vs West Footscray 3.7.25

 

Hurry up and eat your oranges I thought at the long break. I’m an impatient gent at the best of times. This is the term to get it done. Do the little things, follow the team rules, blah blah blah. Out they went, early as usual due to my impatience and the umpires apparently enjoying some morning tea! It is at this point of the game I should point out that our boys didn’t miss a beat for the rest of the day and put together the best half of football I have ever seen from them. Kadin was destroying them from his wing. Weston couldn’t stop getting it. Jack was everywhere with Felix right beside him. You’d have thought he was tagging him! Vinh was unstoppable. Xavier was locking it in our forward line every time it came down. It came down a lot! Kadin would get our first of the term after gliding inside fifty and pumping it from distance. Jack would add another shortly after. Not to be outdone, Kadin would grab one more for the team and his tally! Our boys were flying and Sanctuary Lakes were looking vulnerable.  Christian was flying on his wing as well and the Roosters were playing some blistering football. When it did get beyond the centre it was only brief. Aleks was cleaning up everything, pirouetting out of packs and smacking it back down the ground. Angus just kept getting better and better and has locked down our ruck spot for the finals. The tackling, the chasing, the running and the centred kicking were awesome. Nathaniel was a big presence in the goal square and used his strength to advantage on several occasions. One more goal would arrive in the third and it’s a bit of a mystery as to who got it. Kadin or Christian had a set shot which may or may not have cleared the line, Jack picked it up and smacked it through from the massive pack in the square. Either way two flags started waving (that’s always a good sign) or we had our fourth of the term. Sanctuary Lakes hadn’t scored and we were up and about. The boys had been outstanding and would head into the last change with a handy lead, a lot of pats on the back and encouragement from team mates and the smiles that go with them.

 

3 Quarter Time                  Sanctuary Lakes 4.5.29 vs West Footscray 7.9.51

 

A 22 point lead is nice, but given they had kicked four goals with the wind in the second I wasn’t taking any chances. Once again I morphed into “That Coach” who stacks the backline to win the game. In all seriousness, I don’t like doing it but I will get over it. The back line was loaded but with a plan to snag a few more. Would it work? Presumably you already know the result and are just reading this to find your child’s name. I will ask you to forget about that and suspend reality. Jobs were assigned, directives given (I won’t divulge in case someone from Hoppers reads this!) Can we hang on? (Keep suspending belief) Sanctuary Lakes gave it their all. Number 10 was still a ball finding machine and pumped it forward regularly. Our back line was nothing short of brilliant. Aaron took marks, Cooper and Weston kept pumping it back. Aleks was amazing. Frank gave it everything. Vinh and Felix were constantly involved. Defending, then attacking in the blink of an eye. Sanctuary Lakes got one and I got worried! Could we hang on (I said suspend!)? I have seen a fair bit from our boys over the years, but the effort and desperation in the last had exceeded anything that had come before it. Jack came off after having his fingers kicked off (metaphorically of course. He still has his fingers). Yash took a massive pack mark to put the full stop on a brilliant game from him. You got the sense that our boys could smell blood at this stage. Not content with defending, they began to attack. With most of the combatants at the car park end, any counter attack quickly became potentially fatal for Sanctuary Lakes. We started to get the ball out and up the ground. We had a bunch of quick kids up there and they tore it up at every chance. Kadin would help himself to our first of the term after some amazing team play and hard running by him. Tito was in the goal square and played it perfectly. He began to lead and then back pedalled to the goal line leaving his opponent with a massive head ache and no idea of what to do. He settled on following Tito back leaving Kadin with a simple kick and another Roosters goal. That killed Sanctuary Lakes. Their heads dropped. We hadn’t finished yet though. Yet another counter attack saw West pick out Murphy at full pace racing forward. He fumbled the mark and Christian smacked it further forward. Weston had followed his kick up the ground and nonchalantly picked up the pill, summed up his options, took few steps and drilled a banana into the wind and straight through the middle. Goal of the day and the celebration almost made me vomit! Only joking west. That my friends, was game over!

 

Full Time                              Sanctuary Lakes 5.8.38 vs West Footscray 9.10.64

 

Easily the best game these boys have played in my three years as coach. The effort, particularly in the second half was brilliant. With every game these boys get better and some of these kids are showing amazing improvement. Angus in particular. If the boys bring that effort again this week……………….Who knows what will happen? Bring it and let’s find out.

 

Damian

 

 

Second Semi Final v Sunshine Heights @ Hogans Road Reserve #2

 

Preparation for direct passage to the GF was temporarily thrown into disarray with Henry copping a school yard injury on Friday and Lenny, Isaac C and Zidane laid low due to illness saw the Roosters have only 18 fit players to attempt to knock over the goliath of Division 3 – Sunshine Heights.  When we met during the H&A season Heights held sway comfortably winning on both occasions, however Finals footy has a knack of throwing up the unusual.

 

Winning the toss was the first victory for the boys in Red and White.  Alex, Liam, Soc and Jonathan had first crack at winning the all-important centre clearances (an area we were slaughtered in last time these sides met).  A couple of tweaks to the set-up saw Leo, Nav and Dan receive a bit of extra support in the backline through Luis and Ben.  Samuel and Nav were charged with repelling the Heights’ forward forays.  Full credit to the guys in the middle as they won the opening few stoppages.  This saw the beginning of what would be a 3 and a half quarter long arm-wrestle.

 

Sunshine Heights had trouble navigating these tactics and in doing so, Alex and Lockie bobbed up to snaffle the opening 2 goals.  Bailey, Isaac T, Hamish and Juma had battled manfully across the forward line to help lock the ball in the area to give these guys the opportunity to hit the scoreboard.  This gave the underdogs in Red and White a sniff of belief that would carry them through to the finish line.  The opening quarter came to a halt with West leading 2.0 to 0.3.  The panic was already setting in – Sunshine Heights hadn’t been kept goalless in a quarter all season.

 

The second quarter saw all players asked to maintain their discipline and be smart with ball movement.  Diesel was dominating his wing and more than justified the pre-match instruction of ‘kick it to Diesel’.  The Sunshine players were not their usual composed selves and our midfield brigade didn’t relent in their attack on the footy as more and more Heights players showed that they weren’t interested in putting their head over the footy to win the hard ball – as shown by Lockie, Liam and Nav (to name only a few).  The arm-wrestle continued with only 3 behinds registered to the boys from Shorten.  (2.3 to 0.3).

 

Half time came and in the rooms the boys went.  The resolve was in the eyes of each player who donned the jumper – the belief was there and they seemed to enjoy the panicked noises and self-doubt that had crept into the room next door.  With no rotations, Leo, Dan and Abdullahi were asked to keep doing what they were doing – all refused to yield under the desperate pressure from the top side.  Particularly pleasing was their positioning – reading the bounce and the tricky conditions and regularly being in the right position at the right time.  Sunshine finally kicked a goal, followed quickly by another to give them the lead.  At this point, every side in the comp has been run over by this impressive outfit – but not today.  The 3 qtr time siren sounded and there was 4 points in it (2.4 to 2.8).  The breeze was lifting at the backs of the Roosters, and at this point a final 17-minute effort was begged for.

 

A couple of minor adjustments to the set-up saw Luis moved forward, Lockie popped back into defence and Kailey working out the back.  All these moves had an impact as the early passages went West’s way.  The stumbling block was still across half forward and when Soc was swung into that position – it all opened up.  Luis kicked a great long goal from the boundary, Soc pounced on a loose ball to register another major and it looked like the unbeatable were about to be beaten.  Diesel slotted a long bouncing goal and when Liam got on the end of a Nav handball to send the ball over the umpires hat, it was just about complete.  7 minutes remained at this point and when Abdullahi gathered a loose ball to slot his first of the season, the game was done.  Sunshine Heights got a late consolation goal – but that was all it was and West booked their ticket to the big day with a very impressive 4 goal win.

 

Huge credit to every player who donned the jumper today – best efforts of the season from Bailey, Hamish, Isaac T, Leo, Dan, Abdullahi and Juma showed that when everyone is on, the Rooster machine is nigh on impossible to stop.

 

Plenty for the opposition to think about and we get 14 days to get our sick and injured Roosters fit and ready to hit the GF full on.

 

Thanks again to all the extra supporters on the day, particularly this weeks’ helpers: Con & Arjuna (security), Liza & Kris (water, fruit and jumpers), Briohny (the clock master) and Margriet with the medical bag.

 

 

West Footscray:  2 0   2 3   2 4   7 9    51

 

Def

 

Sunshine Heights: 0 3   0 3   2 8   3 9    27

 

Goals:  Alex, Lockie, Luis, Diesel, Liam, Soc, Abdullahi