On Sunday the Cockatoos gave us a a good look of how well they can play. Once again we started off slowly in our second intraclub match in a row. The LCC Menzels took full advantage of that slow start in the first quarter to plant the ball in their forward zone, and kick three unanswered goals. It looked like a thrashing was on the cards. At quarter time a grumpy Cockatoos coach told his charges that they could play so much better. And then they did!
The next three quarters were easily the best our team had played all year, and fortunately the Menzels were there to meet the challenge. What followed was a tremendous game full of spectacular marks, fierce tackles, and piercing kicks, both teams fighting hard to get to get their hands on the ball and forward to a team mate. Our first goal came in the second quarter, and was a brilliant team effort. The Menzels mids had got the ball into their forward zone and into the hands of one of their forwards, only for Ryan to complete a fierce tackle, winning a free kick for holding the ball. He kicked forward with pinpoint precision to Jonti in space, who took the mark and kicked forward to Hamish in the midfield. Hamish in turn kicked the ball into our forward zone. It hit the deck, but Aza fought hard to win a contested possession, and when being tackled was able to execute a clean handball out to Jerry in space, who then kicked truly off a few steps. A brilliant team goal!
If the Cockatoos lifted in the second quarter, their third was even more impressive, as our mid-field, led by an imperious Jonti, kept feeding the ball to our forwards. Jonti took at least 4 intercept marks in the third quarter alone, and when he couldn’t win the ball in the air, won it off the ground or won it by making unbreakable tackles. Despite our dominance in the midfield The Menzels backs, led by Kody and Angus, made it very hard for our forwards to score and they tackled, scrambled and harassed our forwards to great effect. The Cockatoos were slowly starting to even up the score sheet but the Menzels were making it very difficult, repelling entry after entry into the Cockatoos forward zone. Each time however the Menzels forwards kicked the ball out of their forward zone our midfielders were there to stop the ball moving forward. It was a great battle between two determined teams.
The fourth quarter continued with the same level of intensity, and the ball was fiercely contested by both teams, with both teams getting the ball into their forward line at times, but then being repelled by very determined defenders. Clean shots at goal were hard to come by. Ben took a great mark right in front of the sticks, and Ryan managed to sneak one through in traffic. Once again Ryan had a great game, his tackling is brilliant, he took a number of great marks, fought hard when the ball was on the ground and got a great goal. Hamish and Jerry also both fought hard for the ball, and are using more effectively each match (early in the game Hamish complained to me that he wasn’t getting many possessions. I told him if he wanted more touches he would have to just get them himself, and so he did!). Ollie found space to run with the ball on multiple occasions, and Ben and Jack are getting better every week, taking marks, applying pressure, and making tackles. After a quiet game last week Oscar was back to what he does best, contesting ferociously for the ball, making tackles, and getting his hands on the ball. Jude also played one of his best matches. Regularly getting contested possessions, kicks and making tackles.
Each week I give out a coaches award, and given the great team effort on display it was particularly hard this week. I give the award based on the effort shown, how well the player has played, and whether they have exceeded expectations. This week I gave the award to Aza, he tackled hard, he fought for the ball, he chased, and importantly followed up each effort with a second. His clean hands led to our first goal, and while everyone exceeded my expectations this week, I thought Aza had a really good game.
A big thanks to the Menzels for the way they played. My most enjoyable game as a coach (or at least my most enjoyable final three quarters). At the end of the match both teams got together to sing our team song with the gusto a great game deserved! With games like this one, our club’s future is looking great!
Go Cockatoos!! (and Menzels)