Our last game of the regular season saw the Cockatoos back at Blackman Park up against the Mosman Swans. After two weeks playing against two of the strongest team in the comp, finishing our season against the Swans gave our boys a chance to show off everything they had learned over the course of the season.
Right from the outset our midfield were on top and were able to get the ball into our forward line. Hamish, Aza and Ryan each managed to kick goals in what was an impressive first quarter. Ryan kicked a long range beauty, Hamish kicked a screamer from the pocket on a very tight angle, and Aza hustled and fought himself free to kick a great goal. In fact over the course of the match we had 8 different goal scorers out of 9 players, and our ninth player managed a couple of behinds, and was unlucky not to score a goal.
In the third quarter we had Ryan playing for the Swans to give them a bit of a leg up, and Ivan played with them in the fourth. Notwithstanding the fact that we were had eight Cockatoos playing against eleven Swans, our boys continued to dominate possession. What was particularly impressive from our boys was the way they were working together. In recent games we’ve really tried to emphasize the need to back each other up and to provide an option when our team-mate is tackled or under pressure.
Against the Swans the Cockatoos got to see the benefit of that team work, as the player who won the ball in congestion used the handball, or a simple tap, to get the ball out of traffic to to the advantage of a team mate in space. Our players were also really good at looking to pass the ball to a team mate from a kick, and to share the ball around. Playing against a strong team can be a great learning experience, as it helps the players to learn from their opposition. But sometimes playing against a weaker opponent can help build confidence and provide the opportunity to put into practice some of the skills and tactics we’ve been learning and working on during the year. This game may have been the latter, but it really highlighted our boy’s improvement.
Jude was a perfect example of this. Jude is a big strong lad, who sometimes struggles to impose himself on the game. His kicking has improved dramatically over the season, and he can kick the ball a long way, so it is always good when he has ball in space. He was away last week, so before we started I told him he owed me twice as many possessions to make up for the missed game. He started in the midfield and over the course of the quarter you could see his confidence slowly grow as he started to get more of the ball. In the second quarter that confidence increased as he used his body to get to the ball on the ground and into space. He worked really well with his fellow forwards, getting handballs and kicks away to his team mates when under pressure. He applied pressure himself by tackling and hustling his opponents. He was able to set up two goals before finally kicking one himself. More importantly by the end of the quarter (and for the rest of the game) whenever the ball was nearby Jude backed himself to get it, and usually did.
Jerry also deserves special mention, not only did he work really hard to get the ball all over the field, he backed up his team mates superbly, and shared the ball brilliantly, including sacrificing shots on goal to get the ball to a team mate in a better position. He played tough, skillful and unselfish footy. He took marks, laid tackles, won contested ball and had multiple goal assists (and goals). Hamish also had an exceptional day. He was able to showcase his skills by foot, but equally importantly tackled strongly, and applied pressure, an area which has seen real improvement over the season. Ryan took a couple of sensational contested marks, and was strong on the ground. Whether he played for the Cockatoos or the Swans he was a menace to his opponents. Oscar also won the ball everywhere. He is back to his best footy, determined to get the ball, and if he can’t, tackles courageously. He loves a goal and kicked some beauties!
Jack’s kicking has also improved enormously over the season, and he was rewarded with his first goal for the year! He has always been willing to tackle and fight for the ball on the ground, but now he is starting to use the ball well also. His brother Ben (who should never be confused with his identical twin) got plenty of the ball, and made sure he was hard to tackle when he won it. His kicking has also improved, and a number of our goals were the result of Ben and Jack getting the ball from the midfield into the forward line. Ivan kicked goals, took marks and tackled strongly. His determination to get the ball and use it is second to none, and he has a great set of hands. He is really a big asset to our team, and had another great game.
As should be obvious, this match was an excellent way for the Cockatoos to finish the regular season. I’ve had a great time coaching these boys and watching (and hopefully helping) them improve. I’m really looking forward to the gala day this weekend for a fantastic finish to the footy year!
Jude won the coaches award this week for his huge game, his best so far, as he really imposed himself, and won lots of ball. Jerry also was given a special coaches award for his unselfish play, and the standard he set. As I have said to the boys more than once, kicking a goal is fun, but setting it up is far more impressive!
Finally a very big thank you to our team Manager, Andrew. Andrew does a fantastic job keeping things organised on game day, before, during and after the game, allowing me to focus on coaching. I’m really grateful for his help, it makes my job so much easier. Thank you Andrew!!!
Have a great week.