Reward for effort is the best way to describe Saturday’s results across both grades v Woodville. The matches were held at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, a ground we at senior level had not been successful since R1 of 2015.
I felt the Reserve team had played some very good football over the past month, albeit patchy. On Saturday they were dominant for long periods of the game and did enough to secure a one-point victory against a finals-bound team. Well done and thank you must go out to Daimon Head and his Assistant Coaches on their commitment to the players and the Football Program this year.
The senior lads had been building towards a positive result for much of the second half of the season. And after last weeks draw against Norwood, Saturday’s result was looking to be a similar one midway through the final quarter.
Our expectations leading into Saturday’s contest was that the Eagles would bring a physical presence to the game as well as look to move the ball quickly offensively. Our focus was to match Eagles intensity around the contest as well as communicate and organise our defence quickly on transition.
After a sluggish opening 20-minutes where we still had our opportunities, the boys got their contest right and moved the ball with efficiency to kick a few late quarter goals and go into the first break with a 4-point deficit.
The second term tightened up with both team’s defensive systems holding strong, much of the play being played between the arcs. A classy Luke Redfern crumb and goal our only major for the second quarter. Two points down at the major break.
We returned for the second half with only three on the interchange as Hamish Ellem succumbed to concussion protocols. The players rallied though and gained some ascendancy around stoppages and competed strongly in the contest. Again, we were unable to take full advantage of our momentum when we had it and the Eagles were able to kick three late-quarter goals. A Ned Stevens goal at the 28-minute mark bought the margin back to 6-points at 3-qtr time.
Three goals in the opening seven minutes of the final term looked to give us the boost we needed to run out victors, but to Woodville’s credit they were brave, lifted their work-rate and intensity both offensively and defensively and were able to regain momentum. The Eagles looked to have done enough to seal the game when Ballenden kicked truly at the 23rd minute-mark of the final term. We were down to one rotation on the bench with Lucas Meline and Jed Obst unavailable due to lower body injuries.
After falling victim to close losses many times throughout our season, I can’t begin to express how proud I am of our boys for not giving in. There were too many incredible moments to recapture in those final minutes of play, but the few that stood out for me were Kane Sherlock’s aggressive but calculated kick up the middle to second-gamer Jordan White which led to a scoring opportunity when we were 6-points down; Johnno Beech’s 1v2 contest inside F50 which he won and gave a handball to Liam Delahunty in the goal-square to tie the game; Kobe Ryan’s intercept in the dying moments, his handball to Lachy Squire who had the composure to lower eyes and hit-up Dela on a strong lead, who then kicked truly after the siren to take the win by 6-points. All great moments.
It was as even a team performance as we’ve had all season. I thought our Mids fought strongly throughout the day; Corbo was gallant in the Ruck, Kobe & Mick Mattingly impacting around stoppages and in transition. JR led from the front down back and was well supported by Kane Sherlock, Tom Morrish and Callum Park. And our forwards worked tirelessly throughout the day to provide options and lock the ball in our front half, Liam Delahunty (4 goals), Ned Stevens (3 goals) and Owen Mulady (5 shots on goal) all playing strongly.
I will take this opportunity to thank all our members and supporters for your support throughout the season. The playing group and I would have loved more wins, no doubt, as I’m sure you would too, but I hope you can see the improvement in our play. Seven West Adelaide Juniors made their debut this year at senior level, I hope this gives you reason to be optimistic of our future.
See you in 2024.
Best: Josh Ryan, Liam Delahunty, Riley Corbett
Goals: L. Delahunty (4), N. Stevens (3), J. Gore (2), J. Beech, O. Mulady, L. Redfern, K. Ryan (1)
Adam Hartlett – League Coach