Zebras live to fight another day
Development Squad Report
By Josh Vella
On a day that could potentially have been the development teams last match Sandringham recorded their proudest and greatest win of the season. Although the ground was quite wet and slippery to start, the sun was out at Piranha Park on Saturday. Coming into the game Sandringham were already down two players, running out onto the field with only 3 on the bench to begin the game. Coach Owen Lalor passionately spoke to the boys before the first bounce about taking the game on, playing for each other and having plenty of fun in what could be the boys last 4 quarters of VFL Development footy.
A slippery start to the first quarter meant there was very little clean ball use going forward and it took Coburg almost 8 minutes to kick the first score of the game with a major. Minutes later the Zebras were able to respond through Lachlan Batten with a calmly taken free kick. It was back and forth for the remainder of the first quarter with a number of turnovers through the midfield for both sides. Coburg went into the first break with a 6 point lead.
Coburg came out of the blocks quickly in the second quarter with a goal in 3 minutes, increasing their early lead to 2 goals. By half way through the quarter, big men Joe Fisscher and Ryley Monkhorst had both taken strong marks and kicked goals to put Sandy in front. Within a minute Coburg had responded however after a poor Coburg miss from directly in front Sandy went from end to end in 3 disposals to set Nick Pavlou up for a mark and conversion inside 50. Taylor Grace hit Joe Fisscher on the chest with a long kick to the half back flank, Fisscher turned and launched a ball towards Jono Haidon inside the centre square who marked, played on and hit Pavlou inside 50. This begun a great patch of momentum before the half time break for the Zebras. Luke Gogis dispossessed Coburg with a great tackle at half forward which Batten picked up and found Haidon inside 50 who converted well. Ryley Monkhorst continued his dominance in the ruck winning a free kick before half time and launching home a goal from 50. Zebras went into the half time break 15 points up with our constant pressure and tackling being tough to deal with for the opposition.
The third term proved to be an extremely back and forth affair with both sides having periods of dominance. Cal Cathcart slotted 2 of his 3 goals in the third term with both coming in quick succession. Joe Fisscher also added to his tally. Sandringham looked to be running out of legs at periods throughout the quarter. There were multiple patches of consecutive goals in quick succession for Coburg in which Sandy seemed to struggle to stop. Sandringham went into the last break with a 2 point lead and set for a huge final quarter.
Lalor asked the boys to dig deep heading into the last quarter and the 21 boys out there did not let him down. Coburg hit the front within 4 minutes of the last quarter start however it was a tight tussle for the best part of 10 minutes following. No team could hit the scoreboard and the game began to have a next goal wins feel to it. In the 16th minute of the last Cal Cathcart snapped an opportunistic goal giving Sandy a slim lead. This was followed by a nice delivery from Rhys Pierce to Jordy Matera inside 50 who converted and put the boys 2 kicks in front. Coburg responded in the 21st minute once again bringing the margin back to 3 points and asking Sandringham whether they had it in them to hold on. As he so often is Joe Fisscher was the man to stand tall and increase the margin back to 10 points at the 25th minute mark. Daniel Hughes topped off an incredible victory after roving ruck work in the forward pocket and snapping over his head for a goal. Sandringham walked away with a gutsy 17 point victory.
It was the complete performance by the boys and everyone played their part. Verma, Pavlou, Scagliarini and Batten were fantastic in midfield giving the forwards good opportunity to score. The boys tackled well all day (91) and their pressure was immense. Big man Daniel Hughes racked up 9 tackles with Jimmy Sziller and Jordan Stewart close behind with 8 each. Cathcart, Fisscher and Monkhorst all had brilliant games and hit the scoreboard. Wallace, Grace and Hayward all created great drive and rebound out of defence, whilst Laumets and Atkins were both brick walls. The boys began the day as heavy underdogs but came out on top.
Sandringham now relies on Coburg to beat Williamstown at Burbank Oval, a game that will decide their finals fate. If Saturday’s match against Coburg proves to be their last everyone involved is extremely proud of what they achieved.
Disposals: Grace 24, Verma 23, Pavlou 22, Scagliarini 21.
Goal Kickers: Fisscher 4, Cathcart 3, Monkhorst 2, Matera, Haidon, Pavlou, Batten, Hughes, Sziller.
Best players: Luke Verma, Lachy Batten, Taylor Grace, Nick Pavlou, Richard Atkins, Tom Laumets