Saturday was a huge game for the U19 Blues, looking to build off what we did against the Old Melburnians during the senior bye weekend.
Our near full strength team against the OM’S lost some quality with the Filipovic’s in the senior side and Jack Forer playing his second game of the season at the Sandy Dragons as well as illness to Lucas Liakakos.
Excitingly, we had another debutant with Harry Pietsch having a really positive impact right from the first bounce on the wing and half forward.
Tom Welling came back into the team for his second game and had a good impact in defence, getting involved in the offensive chains as well as his defensive work.
We were well on top in the early going, kicking to the cricket nets end of Waverley Oval with a strong breeze at our back. Our midfield were on top with Algeri, Richards and Sullivan getting the ball going our way early on, and the move to have Tom Docherty on the half back flank allowed for some leadership and composure when Brighton would exit our forward 50.
Unfortunately we didn’t make the most of the opportunities that we had in the first quarter and found ourselves 2 goals behind by the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was largely in control of the opposition who were able to make more of the breeze that would continue to strengthen throughout the day, kicking 4 goals to 2 in the second quarter making it a 27 point half time lead.
As a group, we had been in a similar situation a couple of times this season and had turned our toes up and been beaten comprehensively, the challenge was put to the group to respond and give themselves a chance to challenge one of the best teams in the competition and they did exactly that.
A dominant third quarter saw us kick 5 consecutive goals and hit the front not long before ¾ time. This came from work rate defensively and being able to turn the ball over and create score off of that.
Whilst not always rewarded, the defensive work rate changed the game, this was highlighted to the playing group at the break, led by long chases from Christian Algeri who did it both ways all day, Ruckman Ethan Manakis who on multiple occasions put huge chases in to put pressure on opposition and joining the act was Harry Pietsch who put in a 50+ metre chase just to force a mistake from the opposition player with the ball in hand, resulting in an opportunity for Jonty Wiseman who went forward and got going with a couple of goals, as did Tommy Robinson who off the back of 7 goals last week, ended with another 3.
Whilst we had chances in the final quarter, we just couldn’t quite get there. Unfortunately the opening quarter was our issue, not quite capitalizing on the opportunities we had going forward and it put us on the back foot for the remainder of the game.
However, by bringing that level of effort every week, we will challenge any team in the competition. We still have up to 6 or 7 starting 18 players unavailable for a variety of reasons, we know that what we have got is capable of beating anyone. The second half of the season is going to be a huge challenge but one that this group is excited about and are capable of doing anything!
Time to reset, go again and be ready for a season defining game against Williamstown CY’s on our home deck after the break.