Early on a pleasant Sunday morning U10 Redbacks played Hampton at Ludstone Street. After two tight games against Hampton during the year, this game was to be the decider for the Vampire/Rovers Cup. As was the case last week, the boys were instructed to play on at all costs, punch the ball from behind and kick to space.
From the first bounce we knew that Hampton was switched on and their top group of players had come to win the ball. Straight out of the centre with a quick long kick the Rovers had a goal on the board in the first 15 seconds. The pressure was on the Redbacks, and our mid-field responded with Sam, Chucky and Connor leading the way. Although we were able to get the ball into our forward zone on a few occasions where Seb and Will C were creating opportunities, the first quarter was basically dominated by a quick and skilful Hampton that left the Redbacks on the back foot.
At quarter time the Redbacks had to re-group and switch on. We could see that Hampton was a very quick side so our plan was to move the ball quickly and try to catch them out of position. With Max F, and Will S getting things moving for us in the mid-field, and Palts tackling like a machine, our forward line with Hugo and Christian started to get more of the ball. Although things looked brighter, unfortunately the Rovers held firm and our scoring was limited.
By half-time we all knew that we needed a big effort from the Redbacks if we were to overcome what was probably the best team effort from an opposition we had seen all year. The coaches challenged our boys to run harder and continue to move the ball quickly, but without over-using the ball. The boys were getting caught with the ball so they needed to act more quickly on their first option.
As the third quarter commenced we sensed renewed vigour from the Redbacks. Declan, Hank and Harro got things moving in the mid-field and were winning a lot of the ball. Nate was creating opportunities in the forward line and Hayden was leading the way in the backline. Despite all this good work, the class displayed by the Rovers allowed them to maintain their dominance over the game.
So, with the last quarter of the home and away season upon us we asked for a huge final effort from the Redbacks. The boys were fired up and ready for a tough last quarter. Luke fought out the game strongly in the mid-field, Max M continued to play well with a solid four quarter effort, Matthew kicked what was probably a personal best goal of the year and Liam was competing fiercely right up until the end. Palts also gave us the ‘switch’ of the year – a long kick across goal in the backline – and although we didn’t encourage switching this year we will try to bring more of this into our game next year.
However, by the end of the day, the better team had come out on top – and that was the Rovers. They were quicker and more skilful and actually showed our boys what they had to aspire to next year.
Overall, coaches, managers, officials and parents want to congratulate the Redback boys on a great season. Bringing together a new group of boys was always going to be a challenge. But, to their credit, each and every boy responded well at training and on match day. All boys improved their football skills during the year, but just as importantly they became strong team mates and better people. We applaud them all.
What did we learn from the game today?
3 Things We Can Improve:
1. The boys still have critical moments when they simply will not ‘stick like glue’.
2. The boys need to act on their first option rather than holding onto the ball or carrying the ball too far – and then getting caught.
3. Mid-fielders were a bit slow today. As the boys get older they will have to learn to run harder if they see themselves spending a lot of time in the mid-field.
3 Things We Did Really Well:
1. The boys tried hard with their tackling today.
2. Some very nice kicking to a target was on display.
3. Despite being on the receiving end of some fierce tackles today, our boys did not complain but dusted themselves off and got on with the job. That is courage.