The Plate team travelled back to Maitland a fortnight after playing there previously to take on Newcastle City in an Elimination Final. With City having only lost their first game for the season against an undefeated Terrigal, the challenge was going to be a mighty one.
With nothing to lose and no pressure on, Coach Chair implored the boys to clamp down on them early and frustrate them into playing a brand of football they don’t want to play.
The pressure was hot early and the midfield and backline were working hard and making it difficult for City to score and move the ball with freedom but the relentless forays forward saw them take an 18 point lead at quarter time and with Michael Vo doing his shoulder again we were a rotation short.
The second quarter saw the pressure from Warners Bay drop off a touch and City capitalised taking a 50 point lead into the main break and another injury saw young Will Scott nursing a sore shoulder and out of the game as well.
Connor Manwarring, Ian Bird, Nick Pattey and Dillon Walsh-Hall were all playing beyond their years (other than Birdy) and doing their best to ensure the margin wouldn’t blow out but the class, pace and fitness of City was a bit too much in the end and they ran out 105 point winners to end a disappointing season but one that we will be better for in the future with development to come.
A huge thanks to Chair for coaching us all year and putting up with our shenanigans and all the excuses for not being able to train and play. Thanks to Lydo for absorbing this as well, as Chair’s assistant, and finally to Adam Ledwos for acting as Team Manager once more.
Premier Grade Review
On Saturday, the Black Diamond Cup boys took on Singleton in a must win elimination match at Muswellbrook. The boys were a little nervous on the 2-hour bus trip up the valley given it was the first time in 3 years Premier grade had played finals, and 10 years since our last finals win in seniors, and they had a tough opposition in front of them. Furthermore, representative defender Linc Stewart was unavailable as he and his partner were awaiting the birth of their second child and Oscar Anderson was unable to play as he was whipped by the Mrs into a trip to Bali during footy season. Sound the Fines tin Dev!
Conditions were not great for footy, with a strong westerly breeze greeting the players which often swirled around and changed direction at times meaning both sides would have to adjust to the conditions if they were to come away with a victory. From the first bounce, the contest was tough and physical with the big bodied midfielders on both teams cracking in hard and fast at the ball. The first 10 minutes was a stale mate as both sides sounded each other out, with plenty of ball ups and boundary throw ins absorbing the time as both teams were finding it difficult to adjust to the windy conditions. The Bulldogs however, were able to get some of their outside run going and kick 3 goals in the last 10 minutes of the quarter to lead 3.4.22 to 0.4.4 at the first break. The second quarter was similar to the first with the contest hard and physical and the wind making it difficult to get any real flow in the contest. The Dogs could not capitalise on ruckman Ben Crawley’s dominance and get their running game going like in the first quarter as the ball continued to be locked in tight or go out of bounds. Inaccurate kicking in front of the big sticks due to the Singleton pressure also hurt the dog’s ability to extend any lead in the second term with the boys kicking only 4 behinds whilst Singleton managed 2 majors to give themselves a chance and some real momentum at half time. At half time, the boys were 3.8.26 to Singleton’s 2.5.17.
After a steadying speech at half time from coach Marty Reiman and assistant coach Jeremy Buckley, the boys came out with some real purpose and kicked the first goal of the 3rd quarter and looked much more composed and in control. Our willingness to spread the ball and clean up our skills allowed the boys to keep Singleton goal-less for 22 minutes of the quarter, however the roosters were able to kick 2 late goals in the 22nd and 24th minute of the quarter to trail by 4 points with a minute to go in the 3rd. It felt as though all the hard work was coming undone until with less than 12 seconds to go, the Dogs got a crucial goal from Jack Hardman after some great clearance work from ruckman Ben Crawley and the barrel chested Ben ‘the steam train’ Hunter, who was instrumental in leading from the front all day. At the final break, the dogs lead 5.12.42 to 4.8.32. After a classic 3rd quarter rev up speech from Coach Marty, the boys lifted in the 4th quarter and managed to start hitting some targets by foot and hand allowing our defenders to get their running game going. As has been a strength of ours all season from our back half and through the middle of the ground we began to hit more targets in the forward line allowing the boys to kick the first 2 goals of the quarter. With Hardman and Cougs looking dangerous and Luke McKenna starting to find some space our deep forwards in JD and Sorro were able to start creating some scoring opportunities for themselves and from there, the dogs were in control and only allowed Singleton one goal and no behinds for the quarter to come away with a 21 point win.
For the Bulldogs, ruckman Ben Crawley was superb winning the majority of his hit outs and giving our midfielders first use for most of the day whilst youngster Lachy Dennis in his 3rd game of Premier Grade football was a handy back-up ruckman option. As always, Ben Hunter was the best player for the dogs with his work at the coal face and provided multiple crucial clearances and had an evenly matched battle with the Singleton Captain-Coach Andrew Scott. The young backline in Luke Roach, who was filling in for Linc Stewart, Riley Warner and Ky McGrath were also outstanding with Riley Warner laying some big hits for a 16 year old in his debut season of senior football. The mosquito fleet in David McGuinness, Jack Hardman and Corey Deverell also caused major headaches for the opposition backline providing plenty of forward line pressure and linking up well across the forward 50. We were all reminded why Lachlan Deverell is a backman given he missed a set shot 5m in front after he received a charity 50m penalty. Dev will no doubt wish he could have his time over but in true Dev style was quit to inform the masses that he was more used to kicking goals from 25m out!
The Warners Bay Football club would like to thank the Singleton Roosters for a hard and fair contest and congratulate them on a fantastic year in coming up to Premier Grade and making it to the finals. We’d also like to thank Singleton Roosters and the Muswellbrook Cats for their hospitality at their sponsor pubs on our bus trip back to Warners Bay as we took the opportunity to stop by and tip a few in with them which both clubs really enjoyed, except Hunter who should NEVER be allowed near a Boat Race skulling competition again after lowering our club colours against the Muswellbrook boys with his insipid performance that left his teammates speechless. On a sour note, the Captaincy of Jake Roach has come under scrutiny after an incident at the pub after the bus trip which also involved Matt Spinks. Both were seen to throw down a smoke bomb, call for the Chopper and bail on the celebrations to have a quiet night with the Mrs. More to come on these inexcusable acts.
Next week sees the boys take on Minor Premiers Terrigal-Avoca down at Killarney Vale’s ground on Sunday 26th August for a spot in the Black Diamond Cup Grand Final!!!
All supporters, players and officials are encouraged to get down to the game and cheer the boys on in their biggest challenge to date as we go into battle with the Panthers.