Scores: South Melb 16.17-113 def Redbacks 1.0-6

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon the U11 Redbacks played a home game against South Melbourne at Widdop Crescent. With school holidays we were undermanned but so were most other teams in the competition. So, on balance, we thought we had a very good chance to win the game. Little did we know what was ahead of us.

Pre-game the message for the Redbacks was that today we would play more attacking football down the corridor once we had moved the ball into the midfield from defence. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to do any of this. From the first bounce South Melbourne came out ‘all guns blazing’, winning the ball in the middle and putting our backline under enormous pressure with running play and accurate kicking to team-mates. Although Chucky, Connor and Caelan battled valiantly in defence, and our mids including Nate and Max F were trying their hardest, most of the Redbacks ended up spectating for much of the quarter. Without our trademark hunger for the ball South Melbourne repeatedly hit the scoreboard and by quarter time we were ‘shell-shocked’ with the scores showing South Melb 5.8-38 to the Redbacks Nil.

At quarter time we had to be honest with our boys – they simply didn’t look like they wanted the ball. South Melbourne was physically taking our boys out of the play with some brilliant hard shepherding at nearly every contest – the best shepherding we have seen in the last 2 years. So it was now up to the Redbacks to respond with their own brand of tough tackling football to get themselves back into the game.

The second quarter started much better for us. Hunger and toughness had returned to the Redbacks game with Will C and Hugo starting to influence the middle of the ground, Sam R and Will S providing stability in the backline, and Matty and Sam W looking dangerous in the forward line. Despite this, we were still struggling to find more than a few players who were beating their opponents, and although we were getting more of the ball our ineffective disposal was letting us down – too many times we simply missed targets. So by half time, although the boys had regained some confidence, the scoreboard was still not kind to us. Scores: South Melb 8.11-59 to the Redbacks Nil.

Half time was difficult. We were looking at a huge defeat if we did not take control of the game and start to play football the way we had been playing all year. That meant we had to go back to the basics; pick up a man (something we didn’t do today), concentrate on our kicking and numbers at the contest – to name a few.

The third quarter opened well for us. The boys increased the tempo further with more aggression at the ball and their opponents. Harro and Luke were doing some great work in the middle of the ground, Spencer showed plenty of desperation in the backline, and Max M and Declan started to give South Melbourne something to think about in our forward line. While we were starting to produce some great passages of play South Melbourne was still too good overall. At three quarter time scores were South Melb 12.12-84 to the Redbacks 1.0-6.

Even if we were going to lose the game the message for the boys at three quarter time was to play hard and tough in the last quarter so that South Melbourne felt every bump and tackle. But, even though our aim was to outscore the opposition in the last quarter, it was another hard slog for the Redbacks and the sheer class of South Melbourne was simply overwhelming. By the end of the game scores were South Melb 16.17-113 def the Redbacks 1.0-6.

What did we learn from the game on Sunday?

3 Things We Can Improve:

1. Redbacks were standing back, spectating and relying on a small number of players to carry the team. Everyone has to contribute, and that means being a team player and making sacrifices.

2. The opposition gave us a lesson in how to shepherd in a tough, hard, but fair manner. We need to do much more work on this skill.

3. We showed today that our players can touch the ball and gain possessions, but at the same time they can be ineffective with their disposal and delivery. The result – turnovers and wasted opportunities.

3 Things We Did Really Well:

1. Some passages of play by the Redbacks made South Melbourne look second rate. We know we can play great football when we are ‘switched-on’.

2. After quarter time, hunger and toughness returned our game. The boys must be given credit as they did not give up.

3. A number of our players put their bodies on the line every week – at the bottom of the packs and in the tough contests. They provide a great example for the team.

Best Players:

Goal Scorers: