A strong, swirling breeze and the promise of rain greeted the boys from Woodfull-Miller as the reserves took the field in their first preliminary final for nearly two decades.
As expected, it was a fierce first quarter. The High’s attack on the ball and the man mirrored their effort in the first quarter, and enabled teammates to find space. Good ball movement brokePeninsulaopen time and again. Pretty’s first ten minutes ensure the High were on top at the clearances, while Jones was dominant in the air and at ground level across half back. His excellent ball use created numerous attacking opportunities, which key forwards Orchard (three goals for the quarter) and Hamilton-Ho were able to make the most of. A 5 goal to 1 quarter in awful conditions was the perfect start.
In the second term the weather closed in and unfortunately the High’s forwards dropped their intencity. The ball was rebounded too easily from the attacking 50 and a number of opportunities to really put the game beyond doubt went begging. At half time the High looked the better side, but it’sdominationof the first half should have resulted in a more decisive lead than 25 points.
In the third term Peninsula rose to the challenge. The 6 day break between games looked to be having an effect as the High tired. The tiring legs of the mid-field were made to work even harder as key backmanTaylorsat on the bench nursing an injury, meaning usual mid-field backup Kelly had to play across half back and was unable to give his onballers a rest. The courage shown by Huett, Santomartino and Czwarno to continue pressing in the trying conditions was admirable.
The fatigue of the players meant the use of voice dropped off and the combination of rain, wind and no communication led to scrappy ball use. However, the game plan stood firm, as the High used the boundary line and kicked long, restrictingPeninsula’s ability to do scoreboard damage from the High’s turnovers. Bunting, playing on the competitions leading goalkicker was instrumental in stopping multiple goals. With a quarter to go the High were just hanging in – 12 points the difference and all the momentum with Peninsula.
In the final term, when fatigue and the rain were at their heaviest the Highs fittest and hardest players came to the fore. Frazcek, Bunting and Drew were inspirational in their attack. The blustery conditions made it nigh on impossible for the forwards to convert truly. The only goal for the quarter from either side was a long bomb by Wright to seal the game, but Bunting and Keough in the last line of defence were just as important.
The siren saw an outpouring of relief as the High celebrated making it to the big dance, all to aware of the challenge that awaits, and relishing the opportunity to make an impact when it counts.
MelbourneHigh School OBFC 8.6.54
Goal Kickers: N. Orchard 3, M. Hamilton-Ho 2, A. Drew , B. Pretty , C. Wright
Best Players: T. Fraczek, A. Jones, J. Bunting, A. Drew, M. Santomartino, B. Pretty