U18's win a thriller

01 September 2012

U18's win a thriller

A game of football is never over until the final siren.  U18 coach, Serge Romano, told his charges before today’s game that he felt Rupertswood would struggle to run the game out.  How prophetic his words would be!

In a pulsating opening quarter, Rupertswood dominated early, winning the ball in the middle and running and spreading very effectively.  Rupo were double-teaming Tommy Russell at full forward and backing their on-ballers to win contested footy – which they did early.  To Bernard’s credit, the boys worked their way into the game and ended up on even terms both in general play and on the scoreboard.  2.3.15 apiece at quarter time.

The second quarter was more of an arm wrestle.  Rupertswood were cleaner with their ball use, were still winning in contested footy, and looked dangerous again – but the U18 pups wouldn’t give an inch.  Jack Holland was unpassable across half back, and dogged competitiveness meant that Rupertswood’s dominance in general play was not reflected on the scoreboard.  3.5.23 (Rupo) to the Pups 3.4.22 at half time.  The “Premiership Quarter” would be telling!

Rupertswood came out smoking early in the third quarter, and started to exert genuine scoreboard pressure on the U18 pups.  Thirteen scoring shots for a 5.8.38 return to 2.1.13 to Bernard’s saw Rupertswood open up what seemed like a match winning 4 goal ¾ time lead.  It was also a wasted opportunity for Rupo, failing to really ice the game on the scoreboard with their dominance in general play.  Bernard’s were clearly outplayed in the third quarter, but to the boys’ credit, not a single player dropped their head.  Serge Romano urged the boys to take the game on, to run and to put scoreboard pressure on Rupertswood early.

Telling ¾ time moves included Tommy Russell into the ruck, Jowett and Bevanda forward in the key posts, Jack Holland onto the ball, Ed Connelly to the wing and Jono Ayres to Half Back.  Within a couple of minutes it was obvious the St. Bernard’s players were full of running and Rupo were flagging.  Tommy Russell was roving his own taps, we had rebound off half back and through the middle, we had effective spread and we shared the ball with skill.

Jowett clamped a contested mark for the first goal – 18 points down.  Jeremy Sullivan kicked a blinder of a small forwards “crumbing” goal at full tilt with clean hands – 12 points down.  The kids had a sniff.  All of a sudden, St. Bernard’s were running across the top of the ground well.  All of Serge’s moves were working and those key players bought others into the game.  Del Zoppo and Woods got dangerous, Cashin won many contested balls and Bernard’s contested footy and intensity had both improved dramatically, Bevanda and Jowett were very effective talls forward and Hedley/Romano/Bisognano/Piantella were all rebounding ball repeatedly from Rupo’s forward line.

Lachie Jowett won a free kick with about 5 minutes to play, slotted his second for the quarter and the boys were two points down.  In the last frantic 4-5 minutes, the ball was moving from both ends of the ground in pulsating, pressure, finals footy.  Rupo had run out of legs and all that was needed was a killer blow.  Enter Ed Connelly and Tom Del Zoppo, who combined beautifully down one wing to get a quick ball forward – where Tommy Russell took a contested mark.  1:35 left on the clock, 40 metres out, Tommy went back and with a right-to-left wobbler, kicked what would turn out to be the match wining goal.  Two points up.

As the final siren sounded, the Rupertswood boys slumped on the ground in disbelief.  Serge Romano commented after the game that Bernard’s U18’s (and footy club) simply never give up.  He had faith in his charges and, with some aggressive ¾ time positional changes, challenged the boys to WIN a game of finals footy.  His charges did not let him down.

So, supporters, members, family and friends – get along next week and see the U18 pups take on Werribee in the preliminary final.

Finals Scribe