Round 11 saw our teams spread across Saturday and Sunday, in a non-traditional round of fixtures. To kick things off, both the Phoenix and U/19s were away from home, both looking to find a win for differing reasons. The Phoenix were looking to consolidate their winning form after their first the week before, and the U/19s to get things back on track after a narrow loss. Sunday saw the Blacks host St Kevin's across the Reserves/Seniors in our annual Indigenous Round. In what was a perfectly orchestrated day by Scott Myers, both Reserves and Seniors wore beautifully designed jerseys by local Indigenous artist Alkina Edwards. Before the Seniors' game, a smoking ceremony was held to recognise and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are lucky to call home; the Wurundjeri People.
What an occasion it was this Sunday at the Uni Main. St Kevin’s presented a massive challenge, but the blacks felt ready for a big scalp. The senior team welcomed back several players this week, one of them being all time blacker legend on and off field, Bede “Weapon” Mahon. It isn’t often that a debutant over shadows the return of a living blacks legend, but Tom Cousins long awaited debut did just that. Never in the history of local football has there been an anticipated debut then the man self dubbed “Fabric” such is his ability to encompass the club. A late call up on Friday delivered Fabric a debut that was more than deserved. Consistently high performing for the heart and souls for his whole career the, door could not hold up anymore. Scott Myers was almost in tears presenting his jumper and he passed on some proud words from his long term mentor Steven Flight. We even had Blackers listening in from Spain such was the hype around the Cousins debut.
The scene was set for a massive day.
In all too familiar heavy conditions at the main skipper Steadman and “The Vindicator” Knight helped get the ball rolling for the blacks, continuing their fine seasons. Early goals to Nick Hey and Matt Grocott, self dubbed “HeyCott” ignited the blacks in the first term. Max Gray found plenty of space out on the wing and Fabric looked at home. We held a nine point lead at the first change with Skobs failing to make the most of their opportunities.
The second quarter saw another highly contested term. Skobs forays into attack were continually thwarted by Moorfield and his squad of merry men. Snags McKenzie continued his stellar form as did Jets Ernest both providing plenty of intercepts and rebound. But if ever there was a passage of play that summed up the day. It was a Fabric picking the ball up off his shoelaces, taking on few would be tacklers and firing off a handball to Weapon whose snap sailed over the goal umpires head, the blacks faithful erupted. A 50m penalty lead to big Jerry lead to a captains goal and the Blacks took momentum into the half leading by 14.
At halftime coach Dale Bower settled the troops and re-emphasised the importance of the contest. If the blacks continued to focus on this area then we could be in for a memorable day. Moving of the magnets saw Weapon back in the guts to help bring the heat around the footy.
Skobs came out firing in the second half and seemed to have turned the tide. They continued to pepper the backline but Chicken Bennett and Charlie “the glove” Francis continually outpointed their opponents. Xavier Chalkley and Henry Robertson worked well with the older heads of the backline and held strong while under duress. Blacks broke through when Pressure hound Max Dow hit the scoreboard after Cousins again got involved down the far wing, as did Gussy McKinna. The lead whittled down to. 9 going into the final change.
The fourth quarter was tight, but back to back outrageous goals from the self dubbed HeyCott sent the blacks crowd into a frenzy. Heys third of the day extended the lead to 20 and the end was in sight. The Skobs machine wouldn’t tire and they began to pepper the scoreboard late. A final foray landed in the lap of yours truly and the siren sounded. The blacks holding on for a memorable 7 point victory. One that many will remember as The Cousins Mahon Game.
A day with many contributors across the field our best for the day were Moorfield, Knight, Steadman, Ernest, Hey and Grocott.
The reserve’s came into this match against St Kevins with good spirits and a determined mindset that they could cause an upset win, after a massive first win against Caulfield the week prior. Before the game there was a bit of confusion on who would captain the side. Co-captains Lewis Steere (overseas) and Tom Cousins, a late out due to him making his maiden appearance in the senior side, both unavailable. Zach Harris was thrown the task of leading the side, with Sam Robertson taking the vice captain role. The reserves side welcomed back Scott Glover after his first win in thirds, Jason Raz, Baxter Aurisch from a nasty ankle injury, Jotaro Howard-Shibuya (Jojo) playing his first game in the reserves side and Ed Phillipson an under 19s up and coming star who also played against Mazenod for the U19s the day before. A strong side selected to play in one of the biggest matches for the year.
The stage was set, Indigenous round at the University main oval. The players wore an incredible Indigenous jersey designed by Alkina Edwards. It was the perfect start to Hack’s captaincy as he won the toss.
The first quarter started and not even one minute in and Jack Kennedy was laying tackles everywhere and was almost unrecognisable under all the mud, Kennedy added a new skill to his repertoire, spinning out of contests and leaving everyone behind. Jackson Sleep stopped a guaranteed goal scoring chance with a big run down tackle getting everyone up and about. It was a crafty crumbing goal out the back from Glover which opened the goal scoring in the match. A minute later a good link up play from James Carpenter and Thomas St Clair resulted in our second major of the quarter. It was the perfect start by the blacks being up 12-1 in the first quarter.
Coming out of the quarter time break the players knew it was just the beginning and a lot more effort was required if they wanted to build on from this lead. The majority of the quarter was played out in St Kevins half with all the defenders under pressure. The pressure did not affect Sam Ackland-Evans who is making a strong push for senior selection, taking some big intercept marks and spoils. Harry Dent was also massive, getting a hand to almost every contest allowing Raz and Henry Lamb to defend anything that landed near them. Play of the day went to Baxter, a diving smother sending the ball out of bounds, causing all the teammates in the area to get over and applaud this effort. Will Baker had the task of kickouts, bombing them long in an attempt to gain territory and create stoppages. St Kevins fought back and were only one point down at half time.
Running out after half time and the conditions had cleared up. The third quarter belonged to Lachlan O’Hara, O’hara’s presence in the ruck and then the ability to follow up and crunch the opposition in a tackle was causing the St Kevins midfield a few problems. Jojo was not shy in his first game with not many opposition players able to get through him. Sam Robertson and Jordan Tunbridge grinded out almost every stoppage in the 10cm of mud which surrounded the whole ground. After dominating the whole quarter without much success Joey Smith popped up and won a freekick which he converted. A scoreless quarter for St Kevins meant that we led 20-12.
The fourth quarter was the most free flowing, with the game opening up, which allowed for both teams to finally be able to get some clean ball movement. After two early goals from St Kevins to get the lead for the first time in the match. All the blacks knew the game was far from over. The ball lived in the black’s half for almost the remainder of the quarter with many set shot opportunities to kick back the lead. Unfortunately the reserves went down in a nail biting two point game. On a positive note, the loss was filled with many positives, one being almost a 60 point turn around from the last time these two sides met. The best included; Lachlan O’Hara, Sam Ackland-Evans, Henry Lamb, Jason Raz, Jotaro Howard-Shibuya and Jack Kennedy.
Off to the snake pit, where St Bernard’s welcomed the Phoenix on their state-of-the-art deck for what made out to be a very intriguing game on a very cool morning. The big question for the Phoenix was can they extend their winning streak even though they were a little undermanned against the highly rated second placed St Bernard’s who were keen to hold on to their place at the top of the table
With no time to even sneeze St Bernard’s had opened the scoring and within the first five minutes had piled on the first 3 goals of the match. Whilst the Phoenix had few opportunities upfront to convert those opportunities went a miss whilst St Bernard’s continued to pile on the goals. A big first quarter by St Bernard’s saw the quarter time score read St Bernard’s 08.03.51 to The Phoenix 00.02.02
With so many centre clearances all going St Bernard’s way the Phoenix had to quickly do something to stop this from becoming a complete annihilation. Whilst the Phoenix battled hard to get back in the game opportunities once again went a miss however, managed to be somewhat a little more competitive. Some good passages of play didn’t reward the Phoenix on the scoreboard whilst St Bernard’s kept on piling on the goals, another four and increasing their lead to over ten goals at half time. The half time score read St Bernard’s 12.07.79 to The Phoenix 00.04.04
With 75 points down at half time and with so many changes from last week’s winning team the Phoenix found themselves in familiar territory. Everyone knew that they could do a lot better, just simply had to go back out and play to their best ability.
From the moment the third quarter started the Phoenix had quickly kicked the first two goals, David Deez Drentin intercepted a mark deep in defense quickly found Sammy Black on the half backline, who quickly got it on to Voges in the middle of the ground then a switch kick across to Josh “Levo” Leviston and with his dead eye kicking boots on hit a leading Sam “Dougs” McDougal lace in front, our leading goal kicker for the year finished off nicely posting the Phoenix’s first goal of the match. On the board now and Josh Leviston keen to add another quickly kicking a second goal for the term. Phoenix now with some momentum, big question was could they maintain it? However, St Bernard’s had other ideas and it didn’t long for St Bernard’s to respond with not just one but three quick goals ensuring this was not going to be one of those amazing win from behind comebacks. At 3 quarter time the score read St Bernard’s 18.10.118 to The Phoenix 02.05.17.
Quarter 4 saw the continued improvement of the PhoenixWith goals to McCaffrey, Leviston and McDougall the Phoenix were able to post three goals for the quarter however St Bernard’s were able to match this. Some will say St Bernard’s just took their foot of the pedal however going by past weeks finishing off strongly is something the Phoenix have been doing with great effect. In the end the Phoenix were just outplayed by a much better team and went down by one hundred and one points. The final score read St Bernard’s 21.13.139 to the Phoenix 05.08.39. Onwards and upwards, with an improved 2nd half against a quality team, our focus now moves onto next week and Old Geelong at Como Park.
Round 11 for the uni blacks under 19s was another cold wet morning. This time at central reserve in Glenn Waverley for their test against Mazenod. The boys had done some last minute recruiting and had managed to secure 1 player short of a full interchange. A special thanks to those boys who came down and supported the cause.
The first quarter did not get off to the start that was required with Mazenod dominating early on in the middle and walking it out. This led to an early onslaught of goals in which the blacks didn’t have an answer to. Unluckily for the blacks the Mazenod boys seemed to have had their kicking boots slotting 5 straight in the first quarter with a wet and slippery footy. On the other hand the Blacks seemed to have fallen into old ways with just the 3 behinds for the quarter. The quarter ended 30-3 in favour of Mazenod.
The second quarter started with some serious downpour and the blacks used it to their advantage, Pat Somerville had worked out how to beat them out of the middle, and it was simply to push the other ruckman out of the equation. This gave the Blacks mids first use of it. It seemed like there was still life in the blacks and after a couple more missed opportunities Harris put the first goal on the board for the Blacks. This sparked something for the boys as they kept the ball locked into the 50 although once again they couldn’t capitalise. With a late goal going the way of Mazenod the half time score was 6.1 37 to 1.7 13 in favour of Mazenod.
As the rain subsided the ground was left as a boggy mire and made for some tough repeat stoppages. Mason Blyth continued his strong run of form creating an impenetrable wall, marking everything that came his way. He had lost his intercepting buddy down there in Conheady who was swapped to CHF in an attempt to get some forward 50 marks. As the quarter continued to run mainly on the wet and muddy wing, Will Rofe pulled out some magic with a long goal from the arc. The quarter ended 7.5 47 to the Blacks 2.8 20
With the final quarter upon us the Blacks needed something special to happen. In Vice captain Kyle Reynolds final game of the season before heading on exchange to Birmingham (its not suprising to see why every uni wanted him after his stellar semester 1 academic performance) he finished off a neat goal, finally getting his name on the scoresheets after a couple close misses. not only did he leave his mark on the Blacks under 19’s outfit but he also left a mark on Mason Blyth’s eye with a strong knee to the head leaving Blyth with a very pretty shiner. Mazenod kicked a couple of goals late to put the game to rest and the blacks were once again left to rue their missed opportunity with the final score ending 9.6 60 defeating the Blacks 3.13 31. With the best players on the day being Harris, Blyth, Daffey, Reynolds, Gillam and Somerville.
The Blacks under 19s will now enjoy the mid season break with a couple of weekends off before starting again on the 22nd of July against Old Haileybury with the Blacks out to seek some revenge over the last time these two sides met.