Despite commencing pre-season in late November, Round 1 snuck up on us quickly with the squad completing a very busy period over the last month. With our first ever U16 camp to the Riverland, 3 trial matches and season launch event executed amongst summer sport finals and school commitments, the players settled into the match quickly and demonstrated great maturity to execute our match focus for much of the game.
In what we expected to be a fast played game in excellent conditions for football, our players were able to slow and absorb the strong rebound game of the Eagles for the first 3 quarters while showcasing strong decision making and ball movement capabilities the other way. Our ability to execute in the first 3 quarters earned us a 23 point lead at the 3 quarter time break and an opportunity to begin our season with a complete 4 quarter performance.
We understood our opposition would come out in the 4th quarter with a stronger attacking brand and knew we would really be tested to execute our focus. The 4th quarter started with some good attacking opportunities for us off the back of the oppositions fast pace and with these opportunities presenting more often, we began to lose our shape and the game became more end to end and frenetic.
This style of footy lends itself to fatigue and while both teams were struggling with cramps and injury our opposition understood that all 18 players on field had to play fast and continued to push while our players began playing a mix of speeds, further impacting our ability to execute our focus.
The final 12 minutes of play saw the Eagles reduce our lead to 4 points and in the final 2 minutes of play we were able to get all 18 players playing at the same speed once more, shutting down the game and winning by 4 points.
We walk away from Saturday pleased with our ability to execute for 3 quarters and with some valuable lessons in process, communication and leadership. We look to round 2 with great anticipation where we get to play another respected opponent that will challenge us to be at our best for the full 4 quarters.
U18’s Coach – Scott Patching