Round 16 Under 21 Match Report

Therry Penola     5.5-35

MHSOB          4.17-41

Final round of the season and the equation was simple: win and we’re hosting a home final, lose and our year is done. All that was left in our way was bottom placed Therry Penola, a team we had previously beaten by over 100 points. While the odds were in our favour, within the first 5 minutes it became very clear it wasn’t going to be an easy day.

On a blustery day Therry came out firing kicking 3 quick goals with the wind, putting the young development squad squarely on the back foot. Originally planning to play for the first time this year, coach Michael Mitchell had to ditch the boots as it was quickly obvious Therry were not the easy beats they used to be. While Joel Hodder was looking dangerous up forward, the ball spent a majority of the period in our defence with Therry’s much larger midfield dominating clearances.

Coming into quarter time 2 goals down, the importance of responding with the wind was lost on no one. And respond we did, with Jamie Radcliffe-Smith and Darcy Wilmott instrumental as we began to get on top in the midfield. With the ball spending 90% of the time in our forward line, Joel added a second goal while young gun Matty Glover got his first. Unfortunately however, it became a quarter of missed chances, kicking a measly 2 goals 9 as we battled with the windy conditions. The good news was we kept them scoreless, with James Timson continuing his development as a lockdown full back and Daniel Golikov providing the toughness we can sometimes lack.

Up 7 points but now against the wind, the decision was made to enter Byron Gunn into the game. Originally planning to let his sore body prepare for finals, Byron couldn’t stand and watch in such a tense game and was injected up forward, providing a clear marking option. His impact was immediate as we battled against the wind, getting himself a goal as a result of some of the smoothest transition football the team has played all year. With the wind still blowing hard, the ball bounced up and down the wing, with Oscar Sergeant taking plenty of marks high up the ground and Tom Golz continuing to hold the backline solid. Going into the all-important last quarter, the lead was steady at 6 points.

Similar to the second quarter, the boys were dominating with the wind but once again we couldn’t translate it to the scoreboard. As Jarrod Growse provided more electrifying run and Hugh Radcliffe-Smith almost took mark of the year, the team was looking for that knockout blow. 5 behinds later and we were still searching before Therry suddenly struck. Kicking a goal against the run of the play, the lead was back to 5 with around 5 minutes to play. The next 5 minutes showed the young players what finals intensity is like as everyone ran around with a frantic pace. As we managed yet another behind, the seconds slowly ticked down. Just when we may finally have started to feel safe, Therry suddenly broke free. As we frantically chased unable to lay a tackle, Therry bombed it forward. A look to the clock showed 10 seconds left, hearts were in mouths. But there waiting safely at the drop of the ball was our own Daniel Golikov, reading it best to take the mark, ice the game and send us to finals.

While the inaccuracy could have cost us (4 goals 17 for match), the boy’s energy and desire was unmatched. Mike himself commented how difficult it was to give votes, with each and every player standing up when it mattered. While it may not have been pretty, at the end of the day we booked ourselves a finals spot and can go forward with belief that we can challenge for the premiership.

Go Corns!

Goals: J. Hodder 2, M. Glover, B. Gunn
Best: J. Radcliffe-Smith, D. Wilmott, T. Golz, A. Webster, O. Sargeant, A. Rogers