U15-2 semi-final match report

There was nothing normal about season 2020.

Training and games took place under a myriad of restrictions and (spoiler alert) for the Cannons 15/2s the season was bookended with losses to the Penshurst Panthers. Without the silverware in the trophy cabinet, the last game of the season was always going to finish with a tinge of regret, but missing the opportunity for a fourth consecutive Grand Final appearance further added to the disappointment. There was a palpable sense of “what if” evident by all late on Sunday afternoon.

In his pre- game address Coach Paul had talked about resilience and intensity. In what later proved to be Nostradamus like foresight he spoke about the peaks and troughs of tempo footy and about showing heart when things weren’t going well.  What nobody predicted though was how the boggy and slippery ground would make running hard and keeping your feet even harder. Max’s injury kept him sidelined and the heavy ground negated the impact that speedsters, Rameez and Elliot would normally have.

No one could foresee that the ball would never quite seem to bounce our way or that the Cannons would be unable to start with the intensity that finals demand. After the heroics of the previous week the Cannons were off to a sluggish start and that meant catch up footy.

It was perhaps fitting that Stewy, the softly spoken, slightly built winger who undergoes a superhero transformation as soon as he straps on the head gear, would kick the Cannons first goal after a trademark gather, run, and step. If things went to script this would have been the turning point that sprung the Cannons into life, but Penshurst were quick to respond and regain the momentum.

The typically outspoken Woody did his best to fire up the Cannons at each break and no one could question the commitment at the loose ball shown by Kipp, Luka and Dallas. Husky’s tackling was ferocious and Killa never stopped running but the Cannons couldn’t convert on the scoreboard and it felt that the game and the season were slipping away during the third quarter.

The flukey breeze meant plenty of kicks missed their targets and Penshurst were simply better with the second efforts on the loose ball. Lachie, Eathn and Cruisey provided plenty of run out of the back line so there was always a sense that the Cannons would find their rhythm and when JA moved forward and started snapping goals from all over the place in the last quarter (including a magnificent left foot across the body) there was a sense that the improbable could still happen. Although the Cannons finished full of run, Penshurst didn’t forget the epic battle the last time these two met and defended resolutely to finish on the right side of the scoreboard and deservedly qualified for the Grand Final.

It was not the finish that many had foreseen but there were several predictable sights. Coops always gives 100% and his work rate again was outstanding. Never one to rely solely on talent or natural ability he covered every inch of St Luke’s in a tireless game long effort. Riggers rolled his ankle prior to the game but there was no way he wouldn’t take the field and give 100%. His towering height and athleticism are evident but so too now his tackling and second efforts. Damo doesn’t say much electing instead to let his actions do the talking. He was everywhere during the game and his never-ending commitment has become his trademark.

In a game that started under clouds and finished in full sun, there were other constants that remained. Broadie is the smallest player in the team but his diminutive stature belies his courage. JB’s physical strength, his vice like overhead marking and his team first attitude also again on show. Perhaps though it was Mattie G who personified the character of the team. Although not known for his speed he chased and hassled all day. He was strong in the one on one contests, put his body on the line, and never gave up.

The Cannons 15/2s comprise a mix of characters and personalities who have worked together in unusual times to have fun and play footy. We as parents encourage them to play so they can feel the adrenaline of competitiveness, reap the benefit of fitness, enjoy the experience of camaraderie,……… and spend less time fighting with their siblings. (the inevitable reduction in screen time just another bonus)!

Footy is not about winning or losing, it’s about creating memories and experiences.  Its understanding that the pain of a convincing loss is equally as important as the elation of a close victory. It’s about attitude and commitment and working together to help your teammates to bring out the best in yourself. It’s not about being the best but being the best you can be.

Season 2020 was not defined by the last game but should be remembered as a season that saw improvement, enjoyment, sportsmanship and courage in the face of adversity. If this team of developing young men stick together and all come back next year, then I can confidently predict they will enjoy another great season.

  • Stephen Grech. Photo gallery by Sonia.

For a full wrap-up of the U15-2 season in photos, please visit our SmugMug gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U15 Div 2 v Wests

Round 9: A Bird in the Hand

Although the Cannons had comprehensively beaten the Magpies earlier in the season, the context of this, the final round of the home and away season, promised this game would be a test for the 15/2s.

Wests had everything to play for needing a win to make finals and give them the opportunity for back to back premierships.

The Cannons were guaranteed a finals berth, but a win would secure a top two finish.

Taking a cautious approach with injuries meant two late withdrawals so it was 18 Cannons who took to Wagener Oval against a determined looking Wests team with 22 names on the team sheet.

Coach Paul’s pregame address was in front of an surreal quietness from the Cannons. The usual joking and banter were absent, replaced instead with a steely determination that reflected the importance of the contest.

For the past few weeks the Cannons have dominated the first quarter but this week it was Wests who made the early statement. As Magpies notoriously do, they flew and swooped leaving the Cannons, like startled cyclists in spring, distracted and constantly looking over the shoulders for the squawking and flapping black and white birds. The Magpies kicked 2 goals 2 in the first quarter during which time the Cannons didn’t trouble the scorers.

Coach Paul was measured at quarter time. He didn’t ruffle feathers but made it pretty clear to the forwards that they needed to lift. The hard work done in the defence and midfield had gone unrewarded and players needed to be accountable.

It is not every day that young and impressionable 15 year olds will actually pay attention and listen, but that is precisely what the Cannons did. With increased intensity the Cannons took to the field in the second quarter and turned the game around backflipping the contest in a performance worthy of a gymnastic medal. They piled on 4 straight goals in a polished display of controlled possession footy to go into the main break with a 4 point lead. That intensity continued into the third quarter and the straight shooting Cannons had clearly found their range slotting through another 3 goals.

The final quarter proved to be a test of endurance as the September heat and lack of fresh legs on the bench worked in the Magpies’ favour. The Cannons showed true grit and defended doggedly conceding only one goal to hang on to a thrilling and well deserved 7 point win.

It was a season defining performance from the entire team and one where they clearly played with pride and determination.  The Cannons were focussed on winning the footy and never once questioned umpiring decisions or let their concentration lapse. Killa, in a new role up forward, was inspirational on the lead as was Dallas as he played his season best game. He marked strongly and when his eagle eye spotted loose men up forward he was able to deliver to them with pin-point precision. A season best performance too, from Broadie, who was like a persistent Noisy Minor bird bravely putting himself in front of the big bodied Magpies. Woody is well known as a larrikin, but he left the galah at the gate and put in a mature all round performance and great goal kicking display at full forward. Kip and Luka were the pigeons feeding on the crumbs and maintaining the forward pressure. JB copped one on the beak and shed blood for his team while Stewy finished the game like a flamingo – only able to stand on one leg!

All over the ground there were stand out performances. Max, Rameez and Elliot all imitated the Peregrine Falcon with astounding speed while Lachie proved again that hard work gets rewards. Like a budgie released from his cage he darted everywhere delivering another outstanding performance running off the back line.

The back line were under tremendous pressure all game, particularly in the last quarter, but they held firm. Eathn continues to mature as a player getting on with the job and letting his actions do the talking. Like a canary in a coalmine he recognises the danger early and takes action.  Cruisey was first to the ball and adapted the old adage “the early bird catches the advantage”… although I am sure he also caught a few worms while down on the ground in the heat of it too! Grechie, as he does each week, was calling instructions from the back line. He parroted the coach’s words to ensure they kept their shape and structure preventing the Magpies from ever scavenging an easy goal.

In any game the midfield is like a nest. It is the centre of any flock’s existence and its where all plans are hatched. All season Damo, Coops and Riggers have worked together to defend the nest, flying in formation all over the ground with a work rate second to none. They protected and defended each other and precisely delivered a constant supply of tasty morsels to the hungry mouths of chirping forwards.

The home and away season is now finished and the Cannons are perched comfortably in a well deserved second spot on the ladder. Coach Paul could not be more proud of this flock of players as they have accepted responsibility in the jobs they have been given. The return of seven straight goals a fitting reflection of the selfless play demonstrated by choosing the best options to goals.

The Cannons have found the right time to hit top form and proudly display the colours of their plumage. They are flying magnificent in formation and look ready to swoop for the first week of the finals!

  • Stephen Grech

 

U15/2 Cannons v Glebe-Newtown

Round 8: Something different

For the past three years, the first Sunday in September has meant that Cannons families skipped through the mandatory Fathers’ Day ritual of cold toast and unwrapping novelty socks in bed to focus on a Grand Final. 2020 has been so unpredictable, disruptive and just plain different, that this first Sunday in September was never going to be the same as the others!

It was Round 8 and the Cannons 15/2s found themselves travelling to Alan Davidson Oval to play Glebe-Newtown. The Cannons have already played every other team in the competition twice this year but this was the first time these two teams would meet in 2020. Two weeks away from finals and the boys find themselves facing a new opponent for the first time! Mmmm… that’s different!

Things looked different on the field too. Glebe-Newtown is a joint venture so their grey and red jumpers were new in this division and the Cannons line looked different. Reliable backman Grechie lined up in at full forward while goal kicking machine JB stood smiling in the backline.

Amidst all these differences though, Rigger’s domination of the ruck proved to be constant providing first use for the Cannons midfield. Glebe-Newtown play with real intensity. Possession in the first quarter was a fairly even match but the Cannons were able to use their forward entries more effectively and found themselves a couple of goals ahead at the first break.

At quarter time, Coach Paul pointed out a lack of talk left the Cannons unaware of options or impending tackles. They were working hard but not efficiently. What he said clearly made a difference as the execution in the second quarter was much better. As the game progressed the Cannons defence stayed strong and the forwards and mids demonstrated much better movement.

Some positional changes at the break but things still looked pretty different with regular forward Woody enjoying the text book defenders “fist first” approach at centre half back. Eathn has been known to get fired up on the field but he was a portrait of discipline, and that discipline was rewarded.

Keen observers of the Cannons will have also noted some differences in the team over the duration of the season. One striking difference is the number of players with genuine pace! Rameez, Max, Elliot and Stewy all demonstrated their blistering speed at various stages in the game running down, and from, their opponents.

Compared to the start of the season the Cannons physical intensity and commitment is also different. It was a tough contest with plenty of heat and a couple of blood rules for good measure. Broadie is the smallest player on the team but his shoulder left a massive dent in the turf after a bone crunching tackle. He showed enormous ticker however to return to the field after a brief rest and lay bone crunching tackles of his own. Similarly, Kipp only had eyes for the ball and went in hard. Even late in the game when the result was beyond doubt, Killa and Cruisey would not concede anything and Lachy’s four quarter effort was his best game all year.

At the other end of the ground, Husky’s forward pressure was excellent and Luka looked delighted when his persistence resulted in a magnificent crumber’s goal. Their smiles however couldn’t eclipse Dallas who marked on the 50 right on the final siren. His magnificent long range goal after the siren will make a massive difference to his confidence at that range.

As they always do, the midfield were the hardest workers. It makes all the difference to a defender when you have a mobile midfield target and equally all the difference to a forward when the delivery into the forward line is pin point. Damo’s work rate was second to none and Cooper had the ball on a string has he covered pretty well every inch of the ground.

The team has gelled well and the way they work together as a team is making all the difference. The Cannons have never played in the second week of September before so every week from here will be something new. The focus now has to be on a strong  performance next week to secure a top two spot and that will make all the difference come finals.

  • Stephen Grech

Round Seven: U15 Div 2 vs Willoughby Mosman Swans

A little alliteration…

Friday night football involves my second favourite “f” word so I was as reved as a red neck at Republican rally when the 15/2s lined up against Willoughby Mosman at St Lukes for fantastic Friday night footy!

There was a flicker of fear as regular ruckman Riggers revealed he was a late withdrawal due to a training injury the night before. It would be hard to find feet to fill his size sixteen shoes!

Coach Paul had asked the boys to make an early statement so, just as they have done over the past couple of weeks, the Cannons controlled the centre clearances and flew fast into the forward fifty for the first goal. It was the first of a flurry of goals that placed the Cannons comfortably in front at the quarter time break.

The Swans were somewhat startled but started the second strongly and steadied the ship. The scoring slowed but the committed Cannons continued clinically and were comfortably in control at half time. In the third term the tempo tempered and the Cannons closed out the contest.

The fourth was a formality so Coach Paul decided to mix things up throwing Cruisey and Grechie into the mids. Bringing the bored back men up with Broadie meant we had a midfield of Matties causing mayhem in the middle. Woody went on to work hard in the ruck while Elliot eased effortlessly past opponents and excited everyone with a couple of entertaining goals on the run.

Again the mercurial Max was magical and Luka leapt and lunged at every ball. Husky’s hassle was a highlight and Lachie left opponents languishing. Kips kept kicking, Rameez ran riot and Stewy’s speed was stunning. Eathn’s exceptional effort evident until injury ended his night.

Whether with jaw like grip or just juggling, JB marked everything that came his way and Dallas darted, dodged and delivered in front of goal. Continually and consistently Coops controlled the clearances, Damo’s dominated with deliberate delivery around the ground and JA was just awesome judging a tight angle perfectly, for a great goal late in the game!  Just reward for a polished performance.

Coach Paul was pleased with the performance but presented a poignant point. The focus from here forth will be on my favourite ever f word… Finals!

  • Stephen Grech

 

.

 

 

U15/2 v St Ives

Round 6, Acron Oval

Acron is a beautiful oval nestled in a bush setting adjoining Garigal National Park. On Sunday the tall gum trees that surround the oval swayed rhythmically in the wind as the players went through their pre game drills. Mother nature providing a backdrop of majestic trees performing a Tik Tok dance!  The sun was shining but the strong wind that blew from the south west brought with it a coldness that penetrated the skin and left goosebumps on your bones.

St Ives are undefeated in 2020 and sit deservedly on top of the ladder. They proudly see themselves as the benchmark for other teams to meet. The Cannons 15/2s enjoyed a gritty hard fought win last week, so this week there was a layer of confidence interweaved with the fabric of nerves as the siren blew to begin the game many believe will be the Grand Final Preview.

Although the Cannons started against the wind, they emphatically won the first clearance, registered the first inside 50 and fired in the first goal.  St Ives are a quality team so it didn’t take them long to get going and counterpunch. Their tall and very mobile forwards stretched the Cannons but some determined defence kept the margin to a goal and a half at quarter time.

The two teams are so evenly matched that it somehow seemed appropriate that at the start of the second quarter, St Ives would do exactly what the Cannons had just done. Running into the wind they broke through the middle and scored. Then, in case anyone was staring at the dancing gum trees, they did it again! It took a few minutes but the Cannons started to find their mojo and pressure the scoreboard. The run and ball movement was very good but the swirly conditions meant a return of 1 goal 5 for the quarter. At the long break the scoreboard read 7 scoring shots each but inaccuracy in front of goals meant the Cannons sat 11 points adrift.

Coach Paul urged his players to repeat their 3rd quarter heroics last week. Supported by the hard running midfield the defence stood tall conceding only one the one goal despite the relentless attack of sixteen steely eyed Saints and the atmospheric support of a wind worth at least 6* goals.

(*number not verified by Bureau of Meteorology.  Terms and conditions apply. Read the PDS before determining whether this match report is suitable for truth)

Just three straight kicks separated the two sides at the final change and it was clear that for the second consecutive week spectators would be on the edge of their seats, with their hearts in the mouths, chewing their fingernails and this match reporter clutching a molehill of straws for another cliché.

“A week is a long time in football” seems the most appropriate as this week the fairy tale ending was not to be. St Ives withheld the Cannons incursions and their counter attacks were effective. St Ives made a statement in the last quarter and finished the game deserved winners.

Despite the loss, Coach Paul could see the positives from the game. Lachie played his best game all season and despite getting tagged and closely marked all game, Cooper worked his guts out. Eathn’s 100th game was marked with 100% effort but the stand-out player of the game was Max. He capped off a stellar game with a one handed gather on the run, two bounces (or was it 3?) and magnificent goal from outside 50. A fitting highlight that even brought praise from the opposition!

Although the final result suggests a “comfortable” 3 goal win for St Ives the result could easily have been different. As always there were some unlucky bounces and the swirling wind meant the posts got more hits than the You Tube music channel.

The two teams are very similar on paper and are destined to meet in the finals. When that time comes the winner will be the team boasting the players with the right attitude. Those who are committed to training hard and playing hard. The players who willing to chase even when their opponent is well ahead.  Those who have the courage to shepherd, to smother a kick and the determination to impact every contest.  Those who will make mistakes but continue to try and never give up.

It’s the extra “1 percenters” that make the difference but it will take every player to make every effort, every time.

  • Stephen Grech

 

Cannons U15 Div 2 v Penshurst

Round 4 – The Long Road

It has been said many times that this season is like no other! Even though the Cannons are yet to play all the teams in comp, Sunday 16 August meant a long road trip to Penshurst for a Round 1 rematch.

When these two teams met in round 1, the Cannons were short on numbers, completely lacking pre- season game time and their fitness was best described as “developing”. This week’s game would be a good indication to see exactly how far the Cannons have come in only four weeks.

Things didn’t look good early with late withdrawals due to illness meaning only 16 boys fronted up against a confident looking group of 21 Panthers. Coach Paul knew that following the shaky start to the season the Cannons have turned a corner with their fitness, and that the previous two weeks had shown the quality of footy they are capable of.

Despite the Panthers starting with a strong but swirling wind, it was the Cannons midfield that ensured first use of the ball and started a relentless attack into the forward line. It was a fast paced but evenly matched quarter with the Cannons sneaking a point ahead at the first break. There was a definite sense of excitement at the start of the second quarter as the Cannons swapped to long kicking options to capitalise on the breeze. The Panthers were prepared however and their rock solid defence conceded only the two goals.  At three quarter time Coach Paul reminded the boys that the third is the “Premiership quarter” and boldly predicted that whoever won the third quarter would win the game. Confidence is a big thing in footy and the Cannons went into that third quarter full of belief in themselves. Despite running into a strengthening breeze and with nobody on the bench they had twice as many scoring shots as the opposition to push their lead out to 15 points.

The final quarter would become a test of endurance, fitness and the ability to withstand pressure. The Panthers took it up a gear and although it was already clear how far the Cannons had come, the question became for how long could they hold on?  As the minutes ticked slowly by the Panthers forwards flew forward, the Cannons defenders doggedly defended, and the stressed spectators speculated how long was left in the game? There was a real fear that the Cannons, like the daylight, were fading fast. 5pm on a Sunday is supposed to be a time to sit back and perhaps relax with a pre dinner snack and a drink, but for the supporters it was only nervous chewing of fingernails and parched throats from yelling encouragement! When the final siren blew after what felt like the longest 20 minutes ever the scoreboard showed the Cannons as victorious by seven points.

It was a collective team effort by every one of the 16 players on the ground. The midfield were on top all game with Riggers tirelessly rucking  allowing  Damo, Coops and JA to dominate the centre clearances.  JB’s work rate in front of goals was outstanding and his second and third efforts provided crumbers  Kipp and Husky plenty of opportunities. Rameez and Max were again blistering with their speed and tackling both in attack and defence. Stewy and Broadie both copped heavy blows but displayed immense courage to see the game out . When they were needed most the defence stood tall.  Lachie, Eathn, Cruisey and Grechie withstood the pressure all game but particularly in the last quarter when the game was there for the taking. They were fully supported by the hard running midfield who dropped back to assist and this was never more obvious than late in the final quarter when Woody marked on the half forward flank and turned to see acres of space in front of him with only the goal umpire forward of the 50m arc!

As Paul had predicted, this game would be a good test of how far the boys had come in only four weeks. Their depth has been revealed, their fitness has been tested and their determination has been displayed.   They have turned a corner and have come a very long way in four weeks. The point is though there is still a long road in front and the question becomes, how far can they go?

 

  • Stephen Grech

U15 Div 2 Cannons v Wests

Round 4, St Lukes Oval

Surprisingly there wasn’t much talk about the round 4 game against Wests being a Grand Final rematch.

It’s been 10 months since the last time these two teams played and this over enthusiastic match reporter had already lined up clichés and puns about how revenge is a dish best served cold and how the cold (and wet) Sunday presented the perfect setting for an old fashioned grudge match.

As is so often the case however, reality is different to expectation.

When the Cannons ran onto St Lukes in the freezing cold and pouring rain, their thoughts were not about last year’s grand final. Nor were they thinking about the way they were completely overrun in the rain at St Lukes two weeks earlier. They weren’t even thinking about their convincing victory under cloudless skies last week.

They were thinking only about the game and the very clear instructions that coach Paul had given them.  They knew that the conditions were difficult and they would have to focus and concentrate. They thought about their individual roles and how each of them had to contribute in order for the team to succeed.

They were focussed. But, importantly, they were focussed only on what was in front of them!

Wet weather footy is never pretty or spectacular to watch. It is a gritty, physical test of determination and commitment.

Everyone on the field, including the umpires, find themselves cold, wet and struggling to stay on their feet.

In these conditions only teams that hold their structure, communicate and help each other, and are controlled in their use of the ball will succeed.

The 15/2s remained focused throughout the whole game and actually got better as the game (and the rain) went on.

The forwards were patient and followed game plan, reaping the benefits in the final quarter. The midfielders were driven and persistent in playing to their strengths and controlling the ball. The defenders were determined, committed and remained miserly even in the final quarter when the game was well and truly over.

It was hard to see in the rain, but the reward for the team effort was clear to see on the scoreboard with the Cannons running away convincing winners.

On a day when visibility was not good, the Cannon’s performance was not spectacular or pretty to watch but the maturity the boys showed was crystal clear.

The boys  were focused purely on the job ahead and they worked together brilliantly to achieve their common goal.

With a couple of very tough games coming up in the next fortnight, the Cannons will need to maintain that focus and continue the belief that if the individually bring the same commitment and effort, the team will has a very bright future.

Why on earth would you want to look back when there is so much excitement right there in front!

  • Match reporter, Stephen Grech

Round 3 – U15/2 v Willoughby Mosman Swans

Families often celebrate together over a Sunday lunch. It’s an opportunity to eat, relax and enjoy each other’s company but lunch time for the Cannons 15/2s this week meant footy! Having been starved of a win for the first 2 weeks there was an obvious hunger when the boys took to the Gore Hill Oval to take on the Willoughby/Mosman Swans.

The venue was new but there was something familiar about the old combinations at the opening bounce as the Cannons midfield set about serving up some of the some of the most entertaining footy you will ever see. Footy, like a roast dinner, is best served hot and the Cannons were eye watering, mouth burning chilli hot from the opening bounce.

With the stakes high, the defence went about their job like a chef cooks a steak. They put opponents on the grill, placed some t-boning tackles and shepherds, and made sure scoring opportunities were rare. Overall their performance is best described as “well done”.

The forwards presented a smorgasbord of options and importantly kept going back for seconds whenever the ball hit the ground.  There were goals on the run, goals from set shots, and one passage of play involving half a dozen Cannons that had everything – a burger with the lot! Overhead marking in the goal square the obvious answer to “Do you wanna fly with that?”

The meat in the sandwich was the midfield who took charge in the kitchen and served up a never ending sushi train of forward fifty entries.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all served by ¾ time and the result was beyond doubt, so recognising the importance of a balanced diet, some the teams were balanced out for the last quarter.

There was a menu full of players who contributed all day but there were a few listed on the Specials Board that were worth individual mention.

Fast food is popular with teenagers but Max, Stewy, Rameez and Elliot all showed that fast footy is equally popular and of much better quality.  They fried their opponents like bacon and scrambled like eggs to get the loose ball.

Playing with an injured hand, Coops ordered a take away from the centre bounce and the delivery into the forward line was at a speed Uber eats could only dream of.

Riggers is recognised as a dominant ruckman but today his sportsmanship in helping out the opposition was on also on show. His all round skills have developed such that he would be hot favourite to win “My Kicking Rules”!

Woody had an outstanding game gorging himself on goals. He took countless marks right in the bread basket and capped off a great game with the last quarter run in the ruck.

JA’s assumed the role of Masterchef as he organised teammates, dined out on countless possessions and sold candy to unsuspecting opponents. Watching it was as sweet as a sumptuous desert and his helping out the opposition in the last quarter was the cherry on top.

Damo showed us why he has been practicing left foot kicking at training with a beautiful helicopter goal late in the game. It was satisfying and tasty but really whet the appetite for more.

At the end of the game the team song was sung with gusto as the highly entertained crowds celebrated a toast with the players. The look of satisfaction on the boys’ faces showed that they enjoyed this Sunday lunchtime more than any other. Thing is now that they have tasted success, they look hungry for more!

U15/2 v St Ives

Round Two, aka The Big Wet

St Lukes, Sunday 26 June 2020

There is nothing like getting comfortable with a good book on a cold and rainy Sunday, and for the parents of Cannons 15/2s this Sunday was no different… that is,  it was nothing like getting comfortable.

St Lukes was the venue, St Ives were the opponents, the heavens opened, and the rain was biblical!

It was weather better suited to ark building than football and the hellish scenario was made worse with injury and illness further depleting the already limited numbers. It would be a test of courage and commitment as coach Paul urged the 16 available boys to work together and have faith in each other.

The ground was soft but the Cannons brought a hardness to the opening bounce and the constant rain was a great leveller of skills and speed. It was obvious in the first quarter that this game was going to be a hard fought slog in the wet. The slippery ball was hard to handle, the wet jumpers made tackling nearly impossible, and the constant rain meant scoring a goal would require divine intervention.

Coach Paul had asked for extra effort from all the players. He asked them to push that little bit harder to impact a contest and affect a spoil. To stick close to their opponent and ensure every possession was hard earned. To follow up when the ball went to ground and maintain the pressure. The Cannons courageously fought the David and Goliath battle but ultimately 16:22 is not an even contest and the weight of numbers caused the floodgates to open with the Saints eventually running away convincing and deserving winners.

Despite the gloomy skies there were plenty of bright moments. The reuniting of the successful midfield combination of Big Riggers and Cooper coupled with Eathn’s trademark ferocity allowed plenty of first ball use. Fighting against a flooded defence, the second efforts of forwards JB and Woody in conditions that didn’t suit big men was encouraging as was the contribution from debutant Adrian who was unlucky not to pick up a goal with his first kick of the game. Husky and Kipper adapted to the conditions well and applied great forward pressure  as did Broadie who was perfectly at home down at water level where the ball spent most of the day.

Courage was on show watching Lachie fearlessly contesting against a player that towered over him and again with Texas ferociously tackling on the far wing even when the game was done.  Max’s determination and commitment didn’t stop even after he was pounded into the ground in a contest.  Rising star Rameez proved last week’s stellar performance was no fluke with another outstanding all round game.

The Cannons backmen can all hold their heads high. Killa ensured his opponent had no influence on the game and Cruisey’s charge at the ball and at the start of the second half was rebound footy at its best.  Grechie was consistent and reliable all day and ended the day on a high somehow marking an incoming torpedo, a feat that would have been impressive in the dry and was nothing short of miraculous in the conditions.

At the end of the game the rainwater on the ground reflected the scoreboard but the scoreboard did not reflect the game. The Cannons were courageous and determined and their effort cannot be questioned. They are weathering a storm of injuries but the forecast looks bright so keep the faith!

 

Match reporter: Stephen Grech

U15 Div 2: Round 1 vs Penshurst

Friday night under lights

In 2020 the COVID 19 pandemic has dominated the media and completely changed our lives. We have had to learn remotely, communicate differently, and an entirely new language has become the “new normal”, even on the football field.

The season opener was played under new protocols, against a new opposition and welcoming a few new faces, but the wet conditions meant the ball slipped through hands like a bar of soap at a hand washing station.

Despite the sanitiser there were very few clean possessions in the first quarter as the lack of match practice and the intense pressure from both teams made the going tough. Goals were harder to find than toilet paper during lockdown and there was barely a goal separating the teams at quarter time.

Coach Paul reminded the boys that “stopping the spread” didn’t apply to the forward line as he encouraged the forwards to spread out, lead into the pockets, and allow the midfield to flatten the curve out into the open spaces. Despite the effort Penshurst started to gain the ascendancy in the middle but the Cannons backmen put the game into lockdown. All were outstanding but none more than Ethan, who followed social distancing rules to the letter and ensured nobody got anywhere near him when he had the ball. The constant pressure meant that Penshurst couldn’t convert possession into goals.  Forget “pandemic”, it was “damn panic” when, despite their domination of the play, Penshurst was only 9 points up at half time!

A quick goal to Penshurst at the start of the 3rd term injected them with a confidence  which spread like a virus through their entire team. The Cannons defensive 50 became the hot spot as a cluster of attacking players made it more crowded than Bondi beach in March. Penshurst effectively shut the border across the centre of the ground, and imposed their own travel restrictions which ensured the Cannons had to stay at home inside defensive 50.

Health authorities encourage people to get tested and the final quarter certainly became a test for the Cannons. Shortness of breath was common but in this case a clear symptom of lack of match fitness.  Damo started cramping, Max was clearly in pain, Killa looked unwell and Stewy was physically sick, but like essential health workers, they courageously dug deep to keep the game alive. The inevitable outbreak of goals eventually came and Penshurst were able to record a tough but well deserved win.

There were plenty of disappointed Cannon faces at the end of the game but the result masked some real positives. Debutants Rameez, Jack and Luca showed plenty of pace and mobility and experienced players Cruisey and Riggers continued where they left off last year and dominated their opponents. Elliot has improved his skills adding to his already impressive stockpile of speed, strength and endurance.

Overall the Cannons were Courageous and they had Opportunities but ultimately they were Valiant In Defeat. Despite the scoreboard, those 19 players can hold their heads high and look forward with confidence to next week.