On a rain drenched Sunday afternoon filled with each of the four seasons, the U16s Pigeons came out of the blocks slowly finding themselves 4 goals to 1 down at quarter time in the AWJFL first Elimination Final.
However, to the players’ credit that they did not panic during the first quarter and they fought their way back into the contest. Slowly but surely the side worked their way back with its game plan to take the lead with a fine shot on goal by Alex Byrne after the siren at the main break.
Kyle Abikhair and Max Hemphill were strong early keeping good control of their opponents and also providing drive. However, for a number of the squad it certainly appeared the occasion of do or die final may have increased the nervous energy too much! Particularly, early on (hopefully they will be better for the run).
At full back Sam Willett was at his competitive best with a big role to play which he fulfilled well until injury brought his day to an end. However, crisis only creates opportunity and to full back went Austin Frauenfelder where he proved to be an unpassable line in a sterling performance.
Across half forward Thomas Hicks and Marcus Quinn showed all and sundry how wet weather head over the football is played. As the game progressed though Alex Byrne, Hayden Cartwright and Jordyn Studd assumed control of the midfield and from there the side was in control of the game.
This control provided Riley O’Kane and Sam Mickelson with enough supply to combine for five goals between them with a number of other players playing bits and pieces roles throughout the day in the front half.
On the injury front, the side lost Tom Adkins and Sam Willett during the course of the day and with Nick Gorman under an injury cloud and the side losing, Josh Spain, Reece Norman and Jack Forge for the remainder of the finals campaign due to school commitments this weekend against Wodonga will provide a savouring challenge.
Yarrawonga 9.10-64 defeated Wodonga Raiders 5.5-35
Goals: S. Mickelson 3, R. O’Kane 2, L. Martin, A. Byrne, M. Hemphill, M. Quinn
Best Players: A. Frauenfelder, K. Abikhair, H. Cartwright, J. Spain , T. Hicks, A. Byrn
Preliminary final bound
The Yarrawonga Under 14’s recovered from a slow start to record a come from behind victory over Wodonga Raiders and earn a spot into the AWJFL Preliminary Final.
The squad lacked intensity early in the contest with a the Raiders’ players able to push the ball forward creating numerous scoring opportunities and placing the young defence under enormous pressure.
Bottom age defender Brendan Ryan, Sam Hemphill, Zac Fraser and Harry Nagle stood up to restrict the damage to a 16 point deficit at quarter time.
The coaching group highlighted some key areas for improvement across the board and a number of leaders were asked to lift. It was the tenacious Ben Woodburn who placed his body on the line across half forward and through the midfield who provided a lift at the start of the second quarter. Midfield general Will Sexton started to dominate the clearances whilst Zac Banch relished the wet conditions to lift his work-rate around the packs, kicking a superb running goal in the second quarter.
Ned Pendergast took it upon himself in the second half to compete with the opposition’s best players, he had a strong impact both through the midfield and again when placed in the ruck. The versatile Jett Smith was moved forward and hit the scoreboard with a strong running goal in the third quarter to put the pigeons within 2 points at the third quarter time break.
With strong momentum going into the final quarter it was the leadership of co captain’s Will Wheaton and Fletcher Wallden who marshalled the troops to ensure the ball remained in the forward half of the ground.
Will Sexton and Ben Woodburn continued to control the stoppages and it was a classy goal from Baxter Droop that finally got the Pigeons the lead late in the last quarter. Jett Smith was able to capitalise in the next centre clearance to put the game beyond doubt with two minutes remaining on the clock.
The game itself highlighted how even the Under 14 competition is and that the team will need to remain fully focused on improvement ahead of the Preliminary Final.
Thanks to all the families and friends for their support on the day, particularly thanks to the number of senior Pigeons who came down to cheer the boys on.
Yarrawonga 4.11.35 defeated Wodonga Raiders Blue 3.5.23
Goal Kickers: Jett Smith 2, Zac Banch, Baxter Droop
Best Players: Will Sexton, Brendan Ryan Zac Banch, Ben Woodburn, Jye Leonard, Fletcher Wallden.
Young Pigeons power into preliminary
With Armageddon baring down on J.C Lowe oval the scene was set for another epic contest between the young Pigeons and the undefeated Lavington Panthers.
After the last encounter where the boys fell short by just a goal, they learnt from that game and produced a masterful display of team football.
Applying enormous pressure from the start the Pigeons dominated possession in the early exchanges. Darby Mullins and Tom Ryan were outstanding in the ruck jumping hard giving the midfield first look at the ball.
Inside midfileders Mac Pendergast and Mitch Loughnan beat there direct opponents at every contest winning the hard ball feeding it out to the silky skilled Xavier Walker who used the ball superbly. Hunter Frauenfelder and Jet Peters took their opportunities in front of goal and converted to put scoreboard pressure on the Panthers.
The second quarter saw the Panthers kick with the wind. A disciplined display by our back six led by Lachie Phillips who kept his opponent to just three possessions for the game kept the pressure on the Panthers forcing them into skill errors.
Darcy Hicks and Jye Brenan stood tall when it counted taking front position and clunked several timely intercept marks on the last line of defence. Strong running back flankers Jack Bassett and Loch Harvey ran hard from the contest and spread the Panthers allowing the Pigeons to turn defence into attack.
Coming off the half time break of five points the Pigeons ripped the game apart. Mac, Mitch and Xavier were ruthless with their aggression and physicality at the contest leaving scattered Panthers in their wake.
A total domination in possession saw the boys spread hard and create scoring opportunities. Hard gut running by Mac was rewarded with a well-deserved goal extending the lead. Xavier again with shear work rate stood tallest taking a telling mark in the goal square and dually converted right on the three quarter time siren.
The last quarter was a Lachie Phillips show dominating across half back taking intercept marks at will and used his booming kick to advantage. Hard running wingers Lachie, Callum and Nathan gathered plenty of the footy and showed off their skill set with great effect.
Keeping Lavington to a single point for the quarter showed they had learned their lessons from two weeks ago where they fell short by a single goal.
The large crowd in attendance were thrilled by the display the boys put on and gave them a standing ovation as they left the field as deserved winners and stopping Lavington’s unbeaten run. With grins from ear to ear the boys belted out a rousing rendition of the club song and can now focus on the preliminary final.
Final Scores: Yarrawonga 4-0-24 defeated Lavington 1-2-8
Goals: Jet Peters, Hunter Frauenfelder, Mac Pendergast, Xavier Walker.
Best: Full team effort.