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