With all of Melbourne waking to a clear and crisp Saturday morning, the University Blacks enjoyed a day of success across the board, with the Seniors, Reserves, and Phoenix all achieving good wins. The Unders although had a tough job ahead of them, making their first major trek away from the inner suburbs, to Centre Reserve on Springvale Rd, being hosted by the ladder leaders, Mazenod. Never giving in until the final siren, our Under 19s men didn’t drop their heads at all, despite being on the receiving end of a well drilled Nodders unit.
At Albert Park’s Gary Smorgon Oval, the Seniors bounced back after their Round 6 loss, with a 45 point win against AJAX. The 45 point margin may have been flattering for the visitors, as the Blacks never really had complete control of the momentum in the game. Alas, a win is a win, and the players responded well during the week at training. Furthermore, 100 gamer Sam McKenzie enjoyed great support from his teammates and family, with many of the Reserves players sticking around until the final siren to clap Snags off.
Overall, the game itself wasn’t the greatest spectacle. It took 21 minutes for the first goal to be kicked, courtesy of Co-Captain Jordan Quaile. Despite the clear conditions and gentle breeze, both sides struggled for most of the day with their execution by foot, and in front of goal. The Blacks were the guiltier of the two, kicking 3.12 to half time.
Nevertheless, the Blacks were clearly the stronger side, maintaining a 2/4 goal margin for most of the game, only breaking clear in the last quarter. The heroes for the day were the backline, surrendering a measly 1 goal in the first half and 5 for the game.
Jandre Slabbert, Cam Moorfield and Mitch Rodd repelled many AJAX entries, as to their credit, the Jackers stuck to their game plan with good discipline, naturally looking to play to their strengths and keep the game tight and within striking distance, and looking for the opposition turnovers to pounce on and score.
Returning to the back 6, Henry Bennett had a great game, winning some tough 1 on 1s. Coach Bower spoke briefly after the game in the rooms, reminding his troops that their best football was still to come with more room for improvement at training before taking on Old Carey in Round 8.
The Round 8 Senior game will be celebrated as our 2021 Indigenous Round, which has been brought together by former Secretary and MUFC Life-member, Scott Myers (who initially organised our first Indigenous Round in 2017). Old Carey additionally held their first Indigenous Round in 2019, meaning that the match-up between the Clubs will be a great milestone with both Clubs joining forces to celebrate Aboriginal contributions to Football, in none other than National Reconciliation Week ( 27th of May to the 3rd of June).
Make sure you get down to the game early on Saturday so you can catch all of the pre-game ceremonies, including a Welcome to Country, performed by members of our local Wurundjeri Community.
The Reserves put in a consistent four quarter performance against the AJAX team. It was a comfortable win to the tune of 97 points for the side, who outplayed the opposition for much of the game.
With a reasonable wind blowing from the north, the Blacks fired from the start. Joel Ernest was a welcome inclusion, overcoming a hamstring niggle that had cost him a couple of games. He took up a post on the wing and got through the game without complaint. Additionally, Campbell Luscombe returned, showing great class and experience, putting in a great comeback game. They assisted the Blacks to hold their advantage into the wind during the second quarter.
AJAX showed plenty of signs of good ball movement, finding plenty of space on the wide wings at Gary Smorgon Oval, yet the skill execution let them down for most of the game as the Blacks appeared more composed and efficient throughout.
Harry Attiwell, Sam Nash and Xavier Chalkey were dynamic in the backline intercepting many of the AJAX entries and utilising both sides of the ground with great switch motions. The second half was about trying to repeat the success of the first, with an emphasis on a dominant third quarter; a quarter the reserves have failed to perform well at in recent weeks. But like the first quarter, the blacks moved quickly once again with the wind advantage, Winston Twigg provided fantastic run on the wing giving the forwards a great chance to make AJAX hurt on the scoreboard.
Nick Hay made sure of this booting 5 majors for the day, with multiple goals also to Hamish Rowlands and Lewis Steere. In summary, Coach Rob Paterson called upon his men to produce committed and unselfish footy, with intensity at its highest level for the entire 110 minutes. This was certainly achieved throughout the game as the Blacks dominated contested ball throughout the day ultimately out-bodying the smaller sized AJAX.
A special shout out is in order for Nick Caris, who made his debut with the Reserves after playing some magnificent Footy with our Under 19s. Nick is a bullocking forward with height and dash, as is the case with most new talents these days, taller, faster, stronger, more agile... crikey, what a weapon he could be. He played very well and recieved great support from his faithful friends and a couple Under 19s who had made the special effort to travel and watch him. That's what you want to see.
Next week, they match-up against Old Carey, who they last played in 2018.
At Glenhuntly Oval, the Phoenix were hosted by the Caulfield Grammarians. Having played them three weeks ago in Round 4 – thanks to a quirky VAFA Fixture – the Blacks were confident going into the game, fielding one of their strongest teams of the season. Phoenix legends Tank Cleary and Cam McNeil selflessly elected to take a week off, giving some of their teammates a chance to pull the boots on, as again, the surplus of numbers at the moment is a week to week issue that so far, all players have handled extremely well and unselfishly.
Tank took the coaches board for the game, giving Cal Farrell the freedom to fully concentrate on playing his best football. This setup provided immediate benefits, with the whole side playing probably their best 4 quarter effort so far this season.
The Phoenix are experts of the 9:20am start, knowing to treat the first quarter like a wet weather game, thanks to the morning dew. Players like Braden Poole, Josh Leviston, Will Hayward and Daniel Mount, all started strongly, playing simple football and leading by example. Coach Tank demanded strong fundamentals and the players responded, taking a small lead into the first quarter break, but confident they had the momentum to capitalise on once the dew was kicked off.
And boy did they capitalise, slamming home 5 majors in the second quarter. Lachie Devlin and Blake Cooke began to assert themselves well, with the Phoenix midfielders dominating the clearances. Glenhuntly Oval is a wide ground with large wings, and the Phoenix took full advantage of the fact, keeping their width very well and not honey-potting to the ball.
At the half time break, the player leaders demanded that the group remained confident but not arrogant, as the difference between winning and losing the game purely built upon the Phoenix’s strong fundamentals and strong defensive action.
After an early wake-up call in the third quarter, the Phoenix switched on again and closed out a very solid game, running out 11 goal winners. All players had good moments in the game, with no passengers in the victory. Best players were Lachie Devlin, Blake Cooke, Gus McIntyre and Gus Evans, whilst Daniel Mount was huge in the ruck, filling in for the incumbent ruckman Mick Norrow.
This game showed that at their best, the Phoenix are a very competitive side, capable of taking it right up to Thirds powerhouse's Old Xavs, St. Kevins and OMs. In fact, the OMs remain undefeated in the Men's Premier Thirds competition; the Phoenix came the closest to beating them out of any team so far, only going down by a point against them.
Next week, they return to the Crawford, looking to make amends for their Round 1 loss against Old Scotch, taking on the Cardinals. With a win, the Phoenix could be in the top 4 by the end of Round 8.
As is now customary, the Under 19s have recounted their game through their own unique lens. Keep it coming lads!
"You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
So sang Dylan and skipper Jed Toner duly pointed south as the coin came down the right way up on a glorious twinkling morning in downtown Glen Waverley. Taking on the undefeated ladder leaders was one more challenge for the lads who set a few cats amongst a few pigeons early with another ferocious display and the Blacks went in with the lead at quarter time.
Leon Doyle, MUFC Team of The Century member and occasional U19 goal umpire once memorably assured his teammates who were kicking into a howling gale in the last that it was in fact, “a mere zephyr”. Coach Sexton may have been taking advice from Leon as he suggested to the boys at quarter time the wind had dropped. Blacks royalty Craig “Chopper” Thompson was running the boundary and observed: “great coach he is, Jane Bunn he ain’t”.
But sure enough the boys went back out to the fray and fought out each contest. We were with them for three quarters but fair play to a quality team in Mazenod who kicked away with the wind in the last.
Harry Dent was sensational at full back - cool as a cucumber in the face of multiple attacks. Will “ain’t no” Peucker played his typical wonderfully vigorous big man’s game. Skipper Jed Toner was super back and forward with a memorable captain’s goal from approx. 150 meters out. Albert Upjohn flung himself into contest after contest and Douglas Warren was a serious warrior for the cause. The back from injury brigade of Lach Wooding and Tom Crozier were strong as ever whilst the CFA was called three times to extinguish grass fires set alight by the feet of debutant Marcus Schaper.
All in all another fine effort from the lads and as they set the spinnakers for the trip home minds were already turning to a return to Crawford this Saturday and having another red hot crack."
Next week, the Unders host Fitzroy, in a Round 1 rematch. Supporters may recall how close the game was then at BSO, and the lads will be keen to claim their second win of the year then. Keep at it lads!