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.