Round 3 ANZAC Game v Blues

Friday 03 May 2024

Seniors – Xavier Chalkley

After two tight losses in consecutive weeks, the seniors returned to the Uni Main hopeful to register their first win of the year. Taking on the Uni Blues, who they hadn’t beaten in 11 years, the weather turned it on in what was a great day for football. It was a special build up pre-game as players and fans experienced an ANZAC day service, remembering those (especially university footballers and students) who lost their lives in war. The blacks also welcomed the 1974 A-grade premiership team to the Pavy, celebrating the 50-year reunion of their senior premiership.

Implored by coach Bower to bring ‘Blacks footy’ for longer this week, it was the Blues who started quickly, booting 6 goals to 1 in the first term to hold a 27-point lead at the first break. Despite the score line, the feeling at quarter time was one of optimism, knowing that we were not out of the contest. In the 2nd, the blacks fought back as we took control of field position and stoppage thanks to elite intensity and effort around the contest. This was capped off by a Nick Caris goal on the siren of halftime to give the blacks momentum going into the second half. At the main break, the margin was just 9 points and the message was clear, bring 2 more quarters of that same effort and intensity and we would win. A 4 goal to 1 goal 3rd term meant we lead by 6 points at the final break thanks to some remarkable goals from young trio Max Gray, Ben Stephenson and Jack Cassidy (who was impressive in his return from long-term injury).

The final quarter was a tight contest with neither team able to take control however, when the Blues kicked a goal in the 10-minute mark it brought the scores back to all square. As the quarter went on, both teams attack on the footy and desperation was evident but at the 20-minute mark the deadlock was broken as Ayui Makieng took his moment to put the Blacks up by 6-points. It was a desperate final 10-minutes with the ball living in the Blues forward half but the blacks defence was unable to be penetrated. A shot from the blues with only minutes to go hit the post and after 31 and a half minutes the siren went to give the blacks a thrilling 5-point win.

Henry Bennet was awarded the Batten-Church medal judged best on ground, holding up the backline with intercept mark after intercept mark. Ben Oliver and fellow wingman James Clark were also named in the best, their defensive efforts in the second half were truly outstanding. Up forward, Ayui Makieng kicked 4 goals as he continues to build on his impressive start to 2024 whilst Lachlan Knight returned to his best form showing why he is one of the competition’s elite midfielders. New recruit Angus Rana and young-gun Harry Broderick rounded out the best players.

It was a special feeling in the rooms post-match as Bowser acknowledged not only the importance of getting wins on the board in A-grade, but beating the Uni Blues for the first time in 11 years. As a playing group, there was a feeling a real satisfaction, with a clear understanding that our best football is good enough to beat anyone if we can play it for long enough. We return to the main this weekend to face the in-form St Bernard’s.

Reserves – Samuel Robertson

On a perfect Saturday for football, the curtain was raised for the main event, Us reserve boys were eager to redeem ourselves after last week's tough loss to Brighton. The team was pumped up by a passionate pregame speech from Zach "Hack" Harris and were ready to take on the formidable Blues. Given the previous outing during the preseason, they knew it wouldn’t be easy.

The match kicked off with an intense first quarter, spearheaded by the ever-reliable Sam Auckland-Evens and the Blacks’ latest swingman, Bobby Bouchez. Bobby amazed the crowd with some explosive sprints from the half-back position, making me wonder whether Jandre Slabbert had made a return. Jonathan Mbibi led hard up forward, yet the team struggled to score, trailing by a couple of goals at the first break.

In the second quarter, the midfield group, led by Sam "Unc" Henning, demonstrated their tenacity. Henning, a powerhouse in the centre, dug in and extracted the ball to the silky Jordan Sleep and others on the outside. Newcomer over the last two weeks Cedric Gauder impressed with his strong grabs and scored the team's first goal. However, the Blues countered with vigorous plays through the middle and from their half-backs, widening their lead by halftime.

The third quarter saw the Blues maintain their pressure, but James Sansom’s exemplary skills and Jake "the push-up king" Schroeder’s ferocity injected a spark into the Blacks’ gameplay, but ultimately the Blues kicked away.

Facing a deficit in the final quarter, the Blacks rallied. John Perks and Jordan Tunbridge continued to dominate in the ruck, as they had throughout the game. Luca Hehir scored his first goal for the club off a great hit-up lead, and Oli Rouse, boasting the best left foot since Errol Gulden, added another to the scoreboard. Despite their efforts, the Blues ran away victorious.

As the reserves regroup, they look forward to next week's match against a strong St Bernard’s side at home, hoping to get the first win on the board.

Phoenix – Chris Canny

The Blacks were greeted by a perfect day for footy upon arrival at Newport's Loft Reserve. Following a maiden win in Round 2 and a strong performance in Round 3's practice match, the boys were confident of a win against rival CYMS.

The first quarter proved frustrating for the Blacks as contest dominance was let down by poor decision-making and skill execution. Feeling like the better team, the Blacks went out in the second quarter looking to tidy up these errors. Henry Lamb was pushed to the half forward line in the second quarter. This paid immediate dividends as the Blacks looked much more promising when transferring the ball from midfield to the forward line. However, the Blacks continued to cough the ball up in important moments and allow the more polished Williamstown to transition the ball via foot for easy goals.

Chris Hoke showed plenty in the middle for the Blacks on his way to a best afield performance. His game was epitomised by a late first quarter 'back with the flight' mark. Nick "Warhorse" Powell dominated across the ground in his first outing as Captain in the absence of Cam McNeil, but it was not enough to kick-start some Blacks scoring. Williamstown managed to take the sting out of the game in the second half as they gained considerable midfield dominance, eventually running out clear winners. Following the VAFA regrading period, the Lifebloods look forward to another opportunity against Old Xavs at Stradbroke Park oval this week

Under 19s – Jack Floyd

Round four for the Unders and they took to the fabled Crawford oval for the first time in season 2024 looking to make a statement. Coming off the back of three heavy losses but showing improvement week on week the sky was the limit for the weekends clash with the Hampton Rovers, another strong side this year who were streaming ahead on the back of three straight wins. With a few lates changes the magnets were shuffled as the blacks looked to get themselves on the winners list for the first time this year. After the removal of a couple stray hot air balloons from the playing surface and the ANZAC day ceremonies the game was on.

Heading up the hill to start the match the blacks looked to combat the morning dew with controlled movement around the ground to pick their way through the Rovers Defense. A hot contest throughout the middle was left in the capable hands of Ripper, Blyth, Begbie, Turnbull-Gent and Fu once again who dug in and fought to gain control. Hack kicks and dropped marks seemed to be the theme throughout the first as both sides struggled with the early morning conditions. An early goal to Rouston was about all the excitement for the blacks that quarter as they went into the break trailing 1.2 8 to Hampton 4.4 28.

The second played out similar to the first, tough scraps around the contest as the ball and ground had yet to dry. Good defensive pressure and subsequent movement from Delzoppo, McInness, Stewart and Pick was opening up the ground for the mids and high half forwards to connect and transition the ball into the attacking end of the ground. In a more productive quarter up front, goals to Sands-Morris and Turnbull-Gent gave some reward for effort as the blacks began to build. Hampton was once again able to capitalise on their opportunities and managed to kick away slightly to lead at the half 7.6 48 to the Blacks 3.5 23.

The blacks realised they were right in this contest, only trailing by five straight kicks on a small deck and after a few positional adjustments at the half they were raring to get stuck into it. With the Crawf now dry and the sun out the style of play needed to change as the hack kick system would only lead to turnovers now. The Unders took to the challenge and focussed on controlled movements across the ground. Good hit up kicks and clearing handballs became a staple of the quarter as the dry footy flicked around. It was once again a quarter where the Blacks felt real improvement on the last and seemed to be on top of the opposition for large parts however it was Hampton who managed to extend their lead by ten points to head into the final stanza leading the Blacks 11.8 74 to 5.9 39.

Heading into the last the Blacks goal was to narrow the margin and push themselves to see just what might happen. Vijayasekaran and Skahill provided outlets on both ends of the ground as the Blacks pushed to regain control. Another goal to Sands-Morris was about all the excitement for the blacks forwards as chances were few and far between. The run and outside movement of Hampton once again created issues for the Unders, not being able to delay the entries and giving the backs no time to setup. The Rovers kicked five in the fourth to blow out the final result and seal the game, finishing 62 point victors 16.12 108 to 6.10 46.

In a similar fashion to the past few weeks the Unders improved on the previous weeks result and looked a better side however lapses and inconsistency cost them at the final siren. Coming up against the top four sides in the first four weeks was always going to be tough but the young side stuck with it and have reaped the rewards, seeing how the top sides play and learning from the best is always benificial, even if it comes with a loss.

Round 3 ANZAC Game v Blues

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