A big shout-out to the players - Matthew Grocott, Lewis Steere and Jack Floyd - in each team that helped to compile our match reports, we certainly have a talented bunch of young men playing for us this season! Enjoy their take on each of their side's performances over the weekend below!
Saturday brought the second week in a row of great conditions at a sun-drenched Uni Main for Round 3 of Season 2023. The Blacks played host to Old Haileybury; the first match between the two sides after they had faced off in the 2022 Premier B Grand Final.
The Blacks welcomed Baxter Aurisch to the team for his first Senior game. For Baxter - who was given his jumper by club legend Scott Myers - his opportunity represented due recognition for strong form over the past year in both the Under 19s (2022 Under 19s Rising Star Award) and for the Reserves. Baxter came into the team for the injured Tom Larby (ankle).
The Blackers began strongly in the first quarter with the early exchanges played in the Blacks' front half. Unfortunately, the inability of the Blacks to convert time in forward half into scoreboard pressure was the tale of the first quarter, with Haileybury managing to kick the first two goals of the game from attacking forays originating from their defensive 50. Haileybury's bright start was compounded by the early loss of Co-Captain and leader of the midfield in Josh 'Juice' Steadman to an eye injury, which meant that the rucking duties for the day fell upon Ayui Makieng and Xavier Chalkley. Austin Steere kicked truly to get the Blackers on the board midway through the first, before another two Haileybury goals saw the visitors take a 17 point advantage into the first change.
The start of the second quarter brought much of the same, with Haileybury having the better of the run of the play, and extending their lead. However, mid-way through the quarter, momentum began to turn in favour of the Blackers as a result of a strong surge from the midfield, led by an undersized Ayui halving the ruck contest, and some strong work at the source from Lachlan Knight and Jack Cassidy. The Blacks were rewarded with a flurry of late quarter goals including 2 apiece to Angus McKinna and Nick Hey (which included an outstanding tackle and conversion), which resulted in the Blackers reducing Haileybury's lead to 15 points at the main break.
During half-time, the messaging from the coaching staff was that if we could continue the fight shown in the second quarter we would give ourselves every opportunity to win the contest. Unfortunately, the Blackers were unable to start off the 3rd quarter as they had finished the 2nd. Haileybury's strong transition and a lack of pressure at stoppages would be the story of the second half, which placed the backline under significant pressure to thwart Haileybury's constant forward thrusts. Co-Captain Campbell Moorfield, Henry Bennett and Sam McKenzie battled gallantly to limit the damage, however Haileybury finished the 3rd quarter 38 points to the better.
Unfortunately, Haileybury kicked further away early in the last to put the game to bed. Some enterprising ball movement late in the last quarter which resulted in goals to Ben Oliver and Austin Steere will hopefully provide a blueprint for an improved performance in round four.
Another big week on the training track for the Blacks beckons as we gear up for a great test against the reigning premiers in St Kevins at TH King Oval - our first true away game for the year!
The Uni Blacks Reserves were eyeing off the opening of their winning account on Saturday against an evenly matched Old Haileybury but had to settle for a draw.
The Blacks stormed out to a commanding 5 goal lead at the end of the first quarter, with a make up squad that included what coach Rob Patterson described as “heritage players”; Nick Hanlon and Campbell Luscombe dusted off their boots to pull on the Black and Blue. Additionally, several young Under 19s stars in 2022 Unders B&F Winner, Tom Harris, composed defender Mason Blythe and the solid big-man Everett O'Donnell.
It was the new recruit Ross Porter who started the Blacks off with a great contested mark and goal, followed then by Nick Hanlon putting his head over the footy and taking a bone crunching tackle that received a huge applause from both the Reserve players and the Senior players watching on over the fence.
But it was the next passage of play that really set the Main on fire. Hanlon shrugged aside 2 defenders to take a one handed mark in the goal square (reminded us of Gary Rohan tossing aside Marty Gleeson in the SCG goalsquare for the match winner after the siren) and put another one on the board for the Blackers.
The good times kept on rolling when Canadian youngster Scott Glover booted one of his 2 goals for the day.
The Blacks went into the rooms at halftime 5 goals up and full of confidence, but the second half would tell a different story.
Some sloppy free kicks and a 50m penalty saw Haileybury kick 3 goals to end the third quarter and their confidence began to grow.
The last quarter saw a 5 goal avalanche in under 20 minutes from the visitors and the Blacks were lucky to get away with a draw at the final siren.
Under 19s Youngster Oliver Bouchez stood out on the day with 2 goals and a best on ground performance - he is one to keep an eye on over the next few years and looks very comfortable at the level.
Jack Kennedy, Ross Porter, Max Grey, Hugo King and Jordan Tunbridge were all among the best players and have started to put together some solid footy so far this season. The Blacks will reload and go again this week against the 4th placed St Kevins team in their first trip away from the Main this season.
The Phoenix were up against Old Collegians this week, a team that had yet to record a win so far in the opening rounds. With good numbers on the training track on both nights the Phoenix knew this was a winnable game and that if the team executed the fundamentals well they would be in with every chance to win.
We started well with Liam Bell providing a good contribution up forward, however momentum shifted very quickly Collegians way and whilst we remained goalless, Collegians had piled put four goals on the board by quarter time.
Entering halftime, the 2nd quarter played out pretty much like the first with Collegians hitting the scoreboard regularly and comfortably and extending their lead to be up by 7 goals by half time.
With a disappointing first half but not out of the game, the halftime break couldn’t come quick enough and gave the Phoenix an opportunity to reassess.
Unfortunately, the third quarter was much of the same as the first half, the boys couldn’t find their way into the game, Collegians dominating on the scoreboard to lead by fifty-six points at three quarter time
Our goal was to win the last quarter, with Dolen Vogel now moved to center half forward and Jotaro Howard Shibuya and Hamish McManus now both at the center bounce the Phoenix started to win more of the ball out of the middle and gave our forward first use of the footy
The result – We won the quarter and now look forward with great optimism to our next game against Williamstown CYMS away at 11:40am.
Unfortunately, the unlucky story for the day was Liam Bell going down with a broken collarbone and will likely miss out on a good chunk of the season. Speedy recovery Liam.
Fraser Moorfield had a great game in defense; Chris Canny won plenty of the footy and lead all by example all day; Nick Powell and Oscar Gale battled hard all day in the ruck and around the ground; Sam McDougall a shining light up forward with four goals in his first game; Dolen Vogel battled hard all day and did well when moved up forward. All plenty of reasons to remain optimistic as the season is a long and winding road.
Round 3 and the Unders were back home on the Crawf looking to turn last weeks win into a pair against Parkside. The Devils were sitting at one and one with a tight loss to the ladder leaders and a similar sized win against mid-pack St Bedes showing that they were not going to be a run over. The largest and most boisterous crowd I had ever seen lined the Crawf's boundaries, who were out to see what the youngest Blackers could produce.
Quarter one started in fine form with the returning Finn McMahon on the receiving end of a kick from centre and putting it through the big sticks. The Blacks boys seemed to own the quarter but like the first two games skill errors allowed Parkside to kick a couple and be up at the break.
Similar to the first the Blacks were up and about to start the second with the tap work of O’Brien and Wentzel providing first use to the midfield of Reynolds, Donnellen, Daffey and the former Parksider in Mcmanus. With the dew set in and the ball like soap somewhat organised chaos ensued, a running goal to Phillipson was the only score the home side managed to add by the half as they went on down by only 4 points.
The message from Muz was much of the same and the boys headed out for the third with the win well within reach. Much like the first half it was a case of the Blacks winning the contested ball but leaking uncontested possessions. The backline of Gillam, Rofe, Roberts, Smith, Little, O’Donnell, Nind and Shattock held strong all day and thwarted many an attack keeping the Blacks in it for the entirety. Two goals apiece and the Blacks were down by three at the last change, a task all knew was attainable.
The last stanza started less than perfect with an early goal to Parkside leaving the Blacks behind the eight ball; the nine point deficit was not helped by the earlier mention of the goal kicking accuracy (5.1 compared to 6.15 the week prior). The Blacks went on to kick five behinds when heartbreak began to rear its ugly head until Michael Daffey soared back taking a big contested mark and converting to give the Blacks the lead, one which they never gave up.
This win was a show of the spirit of the Unders, down at every change the effort and commitment never wavered even when things seemed against us. Best players of the day were Ben Little, Rory O'Brien, Finn McMahon, Will Rofe, Kyle Reynolds and Linus Smith.
A special mention to Everett O’Donnell who backed up and played for the undermanned Reserves straight after and from all accounts definitely held his own.