Second Semi Final
Sunday the Preston under 12’s travelled across to Pitcher Park in Alphington to play the first match of the finals in green division. A fantastic achievement to get this far after moving up from blue division the season before.
What a day – wet – windy – and icy cold, this is what greeted us! These conditions were like the last time we played Hawthorn Citizens.
Bullant boys had a great week on the training track to prepare and went into the game quietly confident.
With the conditions being wet and windy the boys were instructed to play in the front and be first in for the ball, unfortunately the Hawthorn boys came out and played a much more determined and disciplined game, leading from the first bounce through to the final siren.
A Few of the Bullant boys tried extremely hard against overwhelming odds which was a great credit to themselves and their character.
The Amide boys, Tom C, Anthony and Max kept working against the flow but the Hawthorn boys had too much speed and endeavour across the board and powered through for a convincing win.
Unfortunately, after a really encouraging year from all the Bullant boys, the season finished on a disappointing note, but the Boys should be very proud of what they achieved over the season after moving up a section and making it to the finals!! Again - Second time around!
This is a result of hard work and good team work, which is extremely pleasing for the coaching team of Jodi, Dean and Pat.
In closing out for the year the coaching staff would like to thank the boys and the parents for making their job an enjoyable one with the boys being an extremely coachable group of young men, a real credit to their parents.
Signing off for another year – thank you for the memories Bullants, it was a pleasure.
Yours in football GO BULLANTS !!
First Semi Final
Today the stage was set for an epic battle v Glen Iris. We had played them once before this year in similar conditions and they had toweled us up convincingly at their home ground. We were ready for anything they would throw at us as well as for the rain and the cold. We were taking some solid form into this match by beating Fitzroy easily the previous week. Olivia Cotsy set the standard early with two run down tackles which both resulted in free kicks within the first 5 minutes. Our girls were aggressive at the contest and we needed to hold Glen Iris up this quarter as they had a 2 goal wind advantage. No surprise that Ayva B, Freya, Marianne and Caitlin were all relishing the wet and windy conditions. Our backline was fantastic in the first quarter with Ella and Victoria combining on many occasions to save certain scores. Libby and Lily also were rebounding well. Glen Iris were a tall side and their marking was a feature first time around; today the weather assisted us in keeping the ball on the ground. The contest was fierce and I thought we held them well at the first change considering they had the advantage of the wind. Scores at quarter time were Preston 0.0.0 to Glen Iris 1.2.8.
The second quarter saw us take charge of the contested ball at the stoppages. Lucy and Gabby came alive and looked dangerous skirting around the packs. Zoe also using her speed and evasive skills to break many tackles and move the ball forward. Our target was to kick 2 goals for the quarter and we hit the scoreboard early on with a behind. The girls locked the ball in the forward zone and we broke through for our first goal minutes later. A brilliant effort from Ayva B who followed the scrum deep into the forward line, roved the ruck work from Charlotte and snapped truly. The girls got around her and we were in the game. Last time we played Glen Iris the game was well and truly over by this point. Today our concentration levels were very high. Erin was working herself into the game and was being closely checked by the opposition. She has given us run and carry all year and has often been a target of negative opposition tactics. Zara and Tyler were moved into the backline and they were making sure we held Glen Iris to a solitary behind for the quarter. The conditions meant the game was going to be predominantly played in the forward fifty of the team that had the wind, and next quarter that was Glen Iris. Scores at the main break were Preston 1.1.7 to Glen Iris 1.3.9.
At half time we talked about the opportunity that we had allowed ourselves to be a part of. We talked about locking the ball in at stoppages in the third quarter and using the boundary line as much as possible to slow the game down and minimise any scoring attempts from the opposition. Hayley and little Liv were moved into the forward line to give us some speed and Sienna to give us some tackling pressure. This was the quarter that we could set ourselves up. Olivia Cotsy, Freya, Caitlin and Marianne were awesome in and under the packs and Lily was amazing down back taking countless saving marks. We were following our game plan to the letter with stoppage after stoppage in the wet. Ava M was fantastic using her body and tackling at every opportunity. Glen Iris could only manage 1 point with the wind and we knew that we could win the match if we could score in the last quarter when it was our turn to kick with the wind. Scores at the final change were Preston 1.1.7 to Glen Iris 1.4.10.
We needed to make a few changes at the final break to allow us every opportunity to take the game. Olivia Cotsy was moved into the forward line and Erin moved into the ruck to give us some much needed height and run. Charlotte moved to centre half forward and Gabby was playing on the defensive side of stoppages while her twin sister was playing on the attacking side. Victoria was moved up a line in order to allow us to attack with her long kicking. Our set up was solid but it was Glen Iris who took us by surprise and scored a goal into the wind. An amazing effort and one we had to match if we were to keep our season alive. Being 9 points down in the wet with 10 minutes remaining was certainly not ideal. In typical Bullant fashion and showing typical Bullant spirit we fought back and kicked a goal through Ayva B. Her second for the day, and a more important goal she has never kicked. For the remaining last 6 minutes of the quarter we had the ball deep in our forward line without scoring. It was an unbelievable end to an amazing match. We had played our best footy and we had just lost. Heartbreaking, but what an achievement in our second year of football. Matching it week in and week out with Gold teams and beating a few along the way. Good luck to Glen Iris next week, I think they can beat both remaining teams. To our girls, I am extremely proud of you all and hopefully next year you will have the opportunity to play finals again. Our best players on the day were Ayva B, Olivia Cotsy, Erin, Victoria, Freya, Lily and Caitlin. Final scores were Preston 2.1.13 to Glen Iris 2.4.16.
Thank you to all who braved the conditions to support us and special thanks to everyone who has chipped in throughout the year. I would like to thank Jamie and Emma for their coaching help, also Dean Hanlon for filling in on the odd occasion. Thanks also to Sean Calcedo for his help over the past two weeks. Thanks to Leanne for running for the year and putting up with me and Lesley for filling in a couple of times. Pauline, Bek, Jim ,Marc, Charlie, Sofie and Suki thanks for your official match day help. Thanks Michelle, who is the beat team manager in the league. Without her I would struggle to do what I do. Finally thank you to the under 13 girls for allowing me to coach them and have so much fun during the year. They are like daughters to me and I believe if they stick together great things will come to them. See you on presentation day.
|Goal Kickers||Phoenix 2, Josh 2, Liam, Dion, Brody|
First Semi Final
On a weekend when a record seven teams represented the Preston Bullants JFC in finals, the U13s faced off against Richmond in their semi-final match at Zerbes Reserve. As has been the case in recent history between the two sides, both teams served up an exciting spectacle, one especially memorable for Declan running out for his 50-game milestone.
Due to the inclement weather on the day, it was a hard slog for both teams. There was great pressure from the two sides around the ground, Caspian providing plenty of run early to get his hands on the ball, and Daniel tough in the contest. Josh and Liam covered lots of ground, and Callum was determined in his charges out of defence. Richmond would make the early breakthrough with the only goal of the first quarter, coming in the 12-minute mark. It seemed like goals were going to be hard to come by, especially with courageous acts like Oscar’s, who put his body on the line to smother a Richmond kick, and bravely played out the rest of the game despite the resulting niggle.
The Bullants would square things up in the second quarter, skipper Phoenix clean around the ball almost in defiance of the wet conditions. Harry and Lachie were rocks across the Bullants defensive wall, and up forward, desperate scrambling from Coen, Jack and Rufus would present Phoenix with an opportunity to kick the Bullants’ first. The boys were starting to gain some ascendency in general play, but were unable to convert this into scoreboard pressure. When Lucas, who’d been prolific on the wing, kicked into an open forward line, Josh exhibited sheer determination, with his gut-running onto a loose ball to create a stoppage, despite trailing two opposition players who were closer. Both sides would head into the main break, locked at nine points each.
At the resumption of play, the boys lifted. Nathan was persistent with his head over the ball, relishing the tough, contested flow of the game, and Daniel belied his smaller frame by being a huge presence at the contest, almost always outnumbered, but never giving in. A few of the boys found themselves in different roles after the change, and none disappointed, each player willing to play their part for the team. Brody used his attacking pressure in defence, while Liam was a livewire up forward, combining with Coen for a goal which, in addition to an earlier goal from Josh, would give the Bullants a handy 13-point lead to defend in the final quarter.
During the three-quarter time huddle, Coach Phil lauded the boys’ efforts, and posed a question heading into the last: did the boys want to play next week? The answer was a resounding yes as the boys went on and ran away with it in the end. Josh provided great forward pressure early, and scrambled for a great goal in a frenetic goal square. In fact, the quarter would produce four individual goal kickers, the other three through Phoenix, Dion and Brody, who replicated his third-quarter heroics in defence to be a threat up forward. Each play, each successive goal, further strengthening the Bullants’ claim on the preliminary final next week. Well done to the Bullants, and congratulations to Declan on achieving 50 games.
Second Semi Final
First Semi Final
Second Semi Final
Second Semi Final
The coaches both gave stirring speeches before the game. The team was focussed. It was dead quiet as the lads listened intently to their coaches. Key messages: don’t be what you’re not; work with your strengths; show the whole league what we’re about; be proud of your jumper, as it has a history; and live up to Bullants’ values such as being hard at the footy. Then Marty got to the heart of the moment. The first 20 minutes are so important. Set the tone. Share the load. Everyone has contributed to where we are right now. Let’s take this game on.
Warringal Park is part of a much larger parkland which is the habitat for many animal species but for birdwatchers it is an especially cool place. Herons, Ducks, Spoonbills, Cockatoos, Black Shouldered Kites, Egrets, and birds of prey like Grey Goshawks can be found in and around the wetlands, herbfields and floodplains. Meanwhile, the Yarra River winds its way through the parklands like a sleepy old snake oblivious of the tensions being played out on a footy field, barely metres from its soft banks.
The ground was springy at best and a mud-pit for a quarter of the ground in a rough radius from the Beverly Rd goals around and touching the centre, to the Bullants coaches’ box. A fierce old wind sprayed its Antarctic juiced breath across the ground and it stung like a bastard. Its force kind of favouring the River end goal. We had that wind in the First.
The Hawks won the first clearance. Too easily. And too many times through the game. Giving them first use of the ball, allowing them to dictate the play. Our backline again fought like hell and kept us in the game. Green with strength cleared to the wing. But the Hawks had our clearing kicks covered and converted. Antho was working hard and Sbrissa laid an impressive tackle. Then Chicco got it moving and Stefan put it into our forward line. Jimmy took the game on – he got it out and Jack N put our first on the board. We started to settle. Chicco increased our tackle count. Tierney took a good mark down back. Sasso was terrific in tight. The game was now officially on. The pace was electric. A series of handpasses saw the ball move deep into our forward half and Rhett, from a free, goaled.
The Bullants made good use of the wind to get it forward but could not convert. The wind got even colder. Jimmy was playing an excellent game. Chambo laid a ripper of a tackle. The Bullants game plan centred on wrapping up the ball up in contests, while the Hawks were favouring opening up the ground so they could run.
Hawks scored a goal within 30 seconds of the Second. Another clearance to them. We forced it forward. But the game ground down through stoppage after stoppage (something like 10 toss-ups in several minutes) in the muddy pocket at our end. What was revealed through this period was the two teams’ respective walls. The Hawks wall was set-up at the 25m mark inside our 50. Our wall was set-up just outside our 50. The Ants’ intent was fierce, determined, and hungry. In close that worked. Once the ball cleared our wall space opened up, allowing the Hawks the run and carry game they craved. They scored and scored again (and I suspect made it look like they had this game on a string).
But the game was a much tougher contest than it looked. And when we took control we almost had it. Tierney took another strong mark. Jack N was working his guts out. Henry was doing a superb job. Tierney kicked a good goal after taking another strong mark. Sonza laid a ripper tackle just before the quarter came to an end.
The Bullants endeavour could not be questioned that’s for sure. But even by half time there were some key things to note. The clearance differential was a problem. Our midfield set-up at each stoppage, which has worked wonders through the season, needs rebooting for the finals. Then there is our structures. The Hawks flooded our forward line but kept their forward line wide open. That can be easily corrected. Next time we play them they we should starve them of space. That will put pressure on their game plan. Don’t forget, a few weeks ago they fell apart under pressure. This time round, they played on their terms (run and carry, with an open front half) and it worked.
Finally, confidence. Our team’s confidence seeped away as the game went on, giving the impression that the Hawks were a much more composed side that the Ants. This is simply not the case. A clearance differential closer to 50:50 would change the plays that come out of each toss-up. Not letting Hawks forwards drag our backline up past the centre would mean they have to work harder up forward. And build each player’s belief, as well as the teams’. Remember, it was only three goals the difference.
The second half was tighter than the first, seven points separating the two teams. Matty M delivered his usual solid performance. Leo kicked a good goal. Stevie played a beauty. Sbrissa, Rory, Jimmy and others were all good contributors. Jimmy had a game, didn’t he?
But if each player asks themselves, did I give it a red hot go, did I give 100% most of the team would say probably not. Some would say I probably didn’t even give 50%. Many would agree, probably 70 to 75%. And we only lost by three goals! Even in the last quarter, with exhausted bodies having battled the rain (and hail), mud and the Siberian tundra like wind factor for nearly 100 minutes, the Ants were still playing desperate “we refuse to surrender” footy. In this quarter ten minutes went by without a score. No, the Hawks were not dominant and did not dominate.
That is the takeaway. Hold your heads up high. So the Hawks were better on the day (just). Some oil in the game plan, some self-reflection and a reminder that you took this team apart a few weeks back should see you right. They are not the better team. And you owe it to yourselves and the fine work you’ve done this year to prove that to them in two weeks’ time.