Last Friday night’s win against Norwood may not be remembered as a great spectacle, it was none the less a great win for the players and the Club. Whilst we had avoided wet conditions for most of the year, we were treated to heavy rainfall through out the night. This unsurprisingly changed the dynamic of the match to one where contested ball, stoppages and long kicking became defining factors.
With two debutants in Jye Sinderberry and Bailey Chamberlain, we entered the game desperate to finish the season with a win and gain some overdue reward for effort and persistence. I thought we started well and set the standard with strong contested ball and defensive pressure. Both sides had difficulty scoring due to the conditions and large numbers flooding the forward 50s. We trailed by 9 points a quarter time but were well in the game. The second quarter was again very even however it was pleasing that when Norwood kicked two quick goals midway through the term, we were able to respond with our own scoreboard pressure through goals to Ken Kapany. This was significant because stopping opposition momentum has been a challenge for us. Despite trailing by 7 at half-time we felt very much in the game. Our backs in particular was well on top with Josh Ryan, Lyndon Hupfeld and Mitch Duval leading the way in aerial contests. Our mids were being beaten at restarts but we knew some slight changes to our tactics would be beneficial in the second half.
The match continued to be a slog after half-time. At times the rain was heavy enough to make even the most basic skills seem difficult. However we continued to have players excel in the tough conditions. Tom Keough kicked a fantastic goal, while Hamish Ellem competed for every ball and still created opportunities from ground balls. Towards the end of the quarter I thought Norwood got a few opportunities to run easily out of our forward 50m which we needed to close down for the final quarter. Trailing by 9 points at three quarter time, I was so impressed with our last quarter. We managed to move the ball a little quicker and strong work rate by our mids and forwards, kept the ball in our forward line. We just had to keep persisting and take the chances when they came. Bailey Chamberlain did exactly this and not only won an important 50/50 ball at half forward, but finished with a great snap. We hit the lead mid-way through the term and we continued to fight and pressure. Norwood had a couple of scoring opportunities however I believe our constant defensive pressure on the night started to impact their composure- a real credit to our backline here. With 3 minutes to go, Brett Turner dodged his way clear from a restart and found Isaac Johnson 40m from goal. Isaacs kick put the game beyond doubt.
After watching our Development team fight hard for a win, it was extremely pleasing to follow up with the win. It was not flashy, rather it was hard fought and full of character and determination. Full credit to our players who have hung tough in a difficult season.
Kaine Stevens was a standout on the night. His defensive intent, work rate and clean handling of the ball in tight, exceeded all players on the ground. Our backline was fantastic. Ryan, Hupfeld and Duval were great on aerial balls and 1v1s. Our inexperienced small backs in Squire, May and Sinderberry were up for the fight all night. Johnson, Karpany, Morrish and Haysman provided 4 quarter pressure in our forward half. Whilst it is a cliché, it was a case of ‘all played well’.