Canada Bay Cannons Under 15 v Glebe/Newtown
Round One, St Luke’s Oval, Sunday 7 April
Straw hats, sunscreen and an esky full of ice aren’t what you’d normally pack for a game of footy. But this is Sydney and it is April.
It wasn’t the sun at St Luke’s which left the boys with a red glow in their cheeks, though. It was the gutsy effort to fight their way back into the contest and nearly steal the game after a slow start.
It was efforts like Mala’s run and chase down the members wing; like Joey’s 60m dash in the other direction down the same flank; like Finny’s gutsy mark running with the flight of the ball in the middle; like Cooky’s strong mark in the goal square: like Johnno and Nic’s gang tackle in defence; and like Sam W and Will’s fantastic first games for the Cannons.
It was a turnaround full of character and maturity to get to within six points late in the game after Glebe/Newtown kicked the first four goals inside 10 minutes and looked like they’d run away to a massive win.
But the Cannons shut them down and then pulled themselves back into the game.
Brayden cut them off in defence, Alex was taking control in the goal square, then Joey took them on with his fierce dash which ended with Mala kicking our first goal just before quarter time and we were back in the game.
With confidence rising, we lifted all over the ground and struck early in the second quarter when Paddy earned a free kick with a trademark tackle, played on quickly and kicked to Cooky who goaled.
The energy levels lifted another notch and we were by now well on top as everyone played their part. Sam F and Tommo were relentless, Johnno was taking marks, Andrew was strong at centre half back and Tank was tireless in the ruck and around the ground.
Finny worked his way into the game and, after his courageous mark in the centre square, he also played on quickly and with great awareness kicked long over the pack to allow Joey to run into an open goal.
We kept them scoreless in the second term and, with a couple of goals of our own, were all of a sudden only eight points down at halftime.
Glebe managed to wriggle loose from the third quarter arm wrestle and kicked a couple of late goals while we missed a few chances, leaving us four goals down at three quarter time.
But that didn’t deter the spirited Cannons.
They came out firing with a bit of a breeze behind them in the last quarter and it was clear they believed in themselves and each other. Cooky returned the favour and set Paddy up for the first goal of the term and then X latched onto Joe’s clever tap over the pack for an inspiring team goal.
As the game tightened up again, the Cannons’ intensity continued to rise and there were efforts everywhere, epitomised by Tank’s run and tackle and Sam F saving the day on the goal line.
Alex was brought upfield and started controlling the game while X was becoming a dominant force in the forward line and his booming centring kick from the boundary found Cooky who took a strong contested mark in the goal square and converted.
With pure guts and heart and a degree of skill, we were only six points down with five minutes to go and the momentum was all our way.
But with no-one on the bench all day, the effort in the heat took its toll and we ran out of puff in those final minutes as Glebe found some fresh legs and ran over the top of the exhausted Cannons with three late goals to give the scoreboard a deceptive look.
Despite the loss, it was a really positive start to the season. Not losing heart after a slow start and then fighting back to nearly beat a team that was in Division One last year showed great maturity and belief.
Everyone contributed and everyone had their moment when it counted.
With just a little more finesse, perhaps a bit more nous in marking contests and some extra fitness, anything could have happened.
But things look encouraging for 2019.
And the effort didn’t just come from the players – thanks to Michael running just short of 7km on the boundary on his debut outing for the club, to Matt and Manfred for their water-running feats and of course to Andrew and Brian for stepping in for Tony.
CANADA BAY 6.2.38
Goals: Cooky 2, Xavier, Paddy, Nic, Joe