Under 13-2 Cannons v Forest Lions

Round 4, 6 May 2018

Match report by Stephen, photos by Sonia

Football is a numbers game. Coaches always talk about getting numbers to the ball but it was the absence of numbers that had the coaches worried leading into the clash with the Forest Lions. With only 15 available players, the Cannons were faced with a daunting task against a team with a full bench. For the Cannons it was a simple equation:

 15 players + 4 quarters + 0 rotations = 100% effort!

The first quarter was fierce with the Lions pushing to capitalise on their extra number in defence but the Cannons were hard at the ball and understood the importance of a strong start. In a tight contest the Cannons managed the only goal for the quarter which put them marginally ahead on the scoreboard at the siren, but the sight of tall-marking forward Woody going down clutching his leg just before quarter time sent a very nervous shiver through the team. Realising the numbers were already stacked against the team, Woody courageously ignored the pain and resumed his position in the forward line in the second quarter.

Speaking of courage, it was evident by the bucketful in Max’s performance. His teammates have long known of Max’s acceleration and flat out speed, and the Lions soon identified him as a danger man. They double tagged him and put immense pressure on his every possession. This served only to strengthen Max’s resolve as well as galvanise the team, none more so than Lochie and Dallas. It would be fair to describe both these boys as “fairly lightly” built, but the ferocity with which they shepherded and tackled far bigger opponents was extraordinary.

Speaking of size, our ruckman Daniel typically would have a height advantage in most games. They breed them big in the Forest so Daniel  shouldered the ruck duties for the entire game against two equally tall players. Daniel outjumped, out rucked and out ran each opponent to give Cannons first use of the ball. Coaches always talk of the importance of teamwork and this is never more evident than watching Daniel combining with Damo and JA. These boys are blessed with great skills but it was the smart team play that really stood out.  I could write an entire report on the number of times these three players combined to win the clearances and plunge the Cannons deep into attack. Up forward Archer was back to his charismatic best finding space in a congested forward line and combining with Jack to cause no end of headaches for the Lions defenders.  It was the constant and relentless forward pressure that resulted in the majority of the Cannons goals.

Inspired by the work rate in front of them the back line played with an intensity that defied the scoreboard. Across half back Mattie P stood tall cutting off any Lions attacking entries. Killa’s ferocity at the contest was outstanding and Mattie G’s chasing down two players running towards an open goal was a coach’s dream. It will compete in the highlights reel with the sight of JB marking strongly and then brazenly running the ball out of defence and Husky pivoted and pirouetting his way out of trouble before a pinpoint pass!

Perhaps the most memorable image however will be the sight of Mattie B at the end of the game. His knee strapped with ice but a steely smile gritted through the pain. Affectionately known as “Little Matt”, he is one of our smallest but most ferocious tacklers and played this game as he does every game – fearlessly. His game ended as he was carried to the bench in the final quarter after injuring his knee. Despite the Cannons having a comfortable buffer on the scoreboard, the Lions graciously withdrew one of their players from the field to compensate for our lack of bench. Thank you Lions, it is sporting gestures such as these that define the game.

In the end it wasn’t at all about the numbers.

This game was about courage, determination and commitment. It was about team work, playing for each other, and every player contributing.

At the final siren the Cannons comfortably got the points but more significantly they received more proof of what they are capable of as a team.