Scores: Ajax 6.10-46 def Redbacks 3.2-20
On Sunday the U11 Redbacks had another home game – this time against Ajax which is undoubtedly the standout team in the competition. We knew that to even stay within striking distance of the opposition we would need a very special effort from the Redbacks for a full four quarters.
So the boys were well prepared, with special instructions to play in front of Ajax’s leading forwards, to maintain Harro’s Wall as an additional line of defence in front of our half backs, and to present with strong leads all day in the forward line.
With all this in mind, the Redbacks started the game strongly. Hank was rucking well and giving our onballers plenty of opportunities while Harro’s Wall was doing its job with Nate leading the way. Although we didn’t score in the first quarter our forwards were creating many problems for Ajax’s defence, with Connor, Hayden and Max F combining well. By quarter time the coaches were very happy with the scoreline – Ajax 1.3-9 to the Redbacks 0.
At quarter time our message hadn’t changed, except we reinforced the need for tough, fair tackling that would challenge the opposition. To our delight the boys started the second quarter breathing fire, with Spencer, Ethan, Liam and Mali holding up the backline, Chucky and Sammy creating havoc in the mid-field, and Max M running wild in the forward line. This was our best quarter for the game and by half-time the Redbacks had shocked Ajax to lead 2.1-13 to 1.3-9.
At half time we knew that Ajax would regroup and turn it on in the second half, so the Redbacks had to maintain their intensity and commitment.
As the third quarter started, our prediction was playing out. The class and speed of the opposition was undeniable, and while our backline led by Will S, Sam W and Hugo did everything possible to repel Ajax, the onslaught was too great. Harro’s Wall also felt the pressure with Declan and Harro gut running to help out the defence. It was certainly the ‘Premiership Quarter’ for Ajax, kicking 3.6-24 to the Redbacks Nil – and Ajax led by 20 points at three-quarter time.
At three-quarter time the fear was that Ajax would run away with the game. However, the coaches wanted the boys to believe in themselves and realise that the first half was not a fluke.
Fortunately, the message resonated and the Redbacks did not give up. Luke was adding to his possession count and providing a solid display of overhead marking, Palts continued to play one of his best games with a strong body and ball control, and Will C gave us another consistent four-quarter effort, displaying a range of skills.
Although the Redbacks responded well with 1.1 in the final quarter, Ajax kicked 2.1 to finish the game.
Final scores were Ajax 6.10-46 def Redbacks 3.2-20, a 26 point win to Ajax.
What did we learn from the game on Sunday?
3 Things We Can Improve:
1. The Redbacks still do not lead enough. Standing flat footed and waving your arms is not a lead.
2. The temptation to chase kicks and spectate at the contest is still a problem.
3. Although the Redbacks have brought handball into their game, too often the boys handball to a player in a worse position than themselves.
3 Things We Did Really Well:
1. Self-belief is a powerful force – and the Redbacks displayed lots of it today.
2. Some inspirational tackling that helped to keep us in the game.
3. Our backline was a standout- holding the best team in the competition to 6 goals for the game.