Round 8 U18 Match Report
West Adelaide 9.8 (62) def. Glenelg 8.10 (58)
Playing an undefeated side this far in to the season is always an exciting challenge, and we were presented with this scenario as we traveled to Glenelg to face the Tigers in round 8. We played Glenelg in round 1 and lost in a competitive game, but much has changed for both sides since then and we were ready to test ourselves against the best. Glenelg’s form has been super impressive and we knew we had to be at our best to challenge them.
We had 5 changes to our side from the previous week. Tom Scully and David Midwinter returned to the side whilst Jordan White, Will Hawke and Jack Sullivan all came in for their first games of U18 football. The latter 3 are all Riverland based and this took our contingent to 7 players from that region for this match which is fantastic and hopefully shows all country players that there is a pathway at the club if they are committed enough and willing to put in the effort required.
With the game starting very early conditions were difficult in the first half. The oval was slippery and made the ball difficult to take cleanly. I was very impressed with the way we handled the conditions. Our contested ball, surge mentality and willingness to put our head over the ball was the best it has been all season. We started well with 4 goals to 1 in the first quarter.
The second quarter was much tighter and despite both teams having good opportunities, the defence at each end held up well and after just one goal to each side for the term, we took a 16 point lead in to the main break.
We have been focusing on our third quarters to ensure we maintain our pressure around the ball. Despite losing the quarter 3 goals to 1 I felt we were still playing ok. Glenelg had lifted as all good sides do and we just needed to settle at the last change and get back to moving the ball with a bit more urgency. I will back our side in against anyone if we get the fundamentals right that we pride ourselves on.
For the 4th time in as many weeks, we lost the lead in the last quarter but found a way to get over the line. The team are completely united and willing to play until the last moment and again this resulted in a win by less than a goal. Tom Scully was excellent in the last quarter providing us with a target up forward and our defence held up really well when it looked like Glenelg were pushing for the match winner.
Our last 4 matches have been wins by a combined total of 10 points (1,1,4,4) and it is the little things that are helping us late in matches. This week we will highlight many of them but one that stands out is Dylan McCormick’s repeat efforts in front of the interchange to surge the ball forward which resulted in a goal. It would have been easy for Dylan to give up but his (and the whole sides) commitment to Team First football sees them lift a gear when most needed.
Jesse Thackeray was our best on the day with 31 disposals, Cade Kennedy had 10 tackles and Saleh Baltagie was impressive up forward with 3.3 from 6 disposals. Our big men were instrumental in this game and shared the load beautifully with Tom Scully and Oscar Steene combining to win the hitouts 51 to 11!
This week we return to Noarlunga for the second time in 4 weeks to play South Adelaide. We know this will be a tough test, but our group have shown they are resilient and capable against anyone. The match is at 10am on Saturday and we are excited to keep our good form going.
Finally, we send best wishes to our women’s team as they face Glenelg in the Grand Final this weekend. It has been fantastic seeing them develop as a group and it is fantastic that they get the chance to play in the biggest match of the year this weekend. All the best to Mark and his team!
Best: Jesse Thackeray, Saleh Baltagie, Cade Kennedy, Jackson Roberts, Patrick Singleton, Kye Roberts
Goals: Saleh Baltagie (3), Jesse Thackeray, Hugh Desira, Dylan White, Tom Scully, Mitch Hahn, Will Hawke (1)