U14 Division 2 v Cronulla Sharks
Round 7, 22 May 2016, Drummoyne Oval
Canada Bay Cannons 4.10.34 d Cronulla Sharks 4.7.31
The Canada Bay Cannons’ relentless desperation in the contests frustrated the Cronulla Sharks out of a three-point thriller at Drummoyne Oval on Sunday.
The Cannons produced their best, most mature quarter of the season to haul in a deficit with just five minutes remaining and hold on in a match worthy of a grand final preview.
“Everyone just lifted when it mattered in the end”, coach Dean Lee told the post-match huddle. “In the backline and around the centre, they all did their job. They were hard at the ball, with their heads over it the whole time in that last quarter … And that was the difference today,” he said.
The home side had trailed for most of the low-scoring match.
Cronulla took a hard-earned nine-point advantage going into the last term but that fell away during an absorbing struggle around the ball – neither side willing to surrender without a fight.
Then Cannons’ big centre half forward Jordan swooped on a loose ball to goal and snatch the lead with five minutes to go. From there it was a character-building battle of wills.
The Cannons won 34-31 to retain their place on top of the premiership ladder after seven rounds.
The match was always going to be tight.
The undefeated Cannons against the third-placed Sharks and Lee’s pre-match warning that this was going to be this team’s toughest challenge so far this season was a reality within the opening minutes.
It was a hard, unforgiving first quarter that for the most part, was played in Cannons’ forward line.
And while both teams gave it everything around the ground-ball contests, the real difference early was in the forward 50 efficiencies.
The Cannons netted 11 points from six scoring shots to the Sharks three goals from three straight kicks. The home side was criticised for their rushed shots while Cronulla looked slick as they found their key targets around the ground.
Canada Bay was dominant around the centre through Joshua, Joel, Jack and Patrick who kept the forward line well fed.
And when the ball was pushed back by Cronulla they were met with a wall of strength in the shape of Michael, Jaden and Sebastian.
The second term started like the first. A glut of territorial advantage for the Cannons through the enterprising football particularly around the midfield.
Patrick, Joshua and Joel were in control but again the forward line could not convert the advantage, landing just 1.4.10 for the term.
Nonetheless, this was a term that showcased superb football from both teams – strong aerial skills, penetrating kicks and solid tackling.
But this time, the Cannons’ back six through Michael, Matt , Sebastian and Gus shut the Sharks down and kept them scoreless. The home side took a slender three-point lead into the long break.
Cronulla’s fast-moving forwards were frustrated out of the contest in the vital third term.
While the Cannons themselves were held scoreless they didn’t let the visitors get any easy shots in. The Sharks netted 12 points from seven scoring shots.
With just nine points separating the two teams, the last quarter was set up for a grandstand finish. The Cannons came out firing.
With strong running from Jack and support by George, the ball was fed to Joel who was lurking in front of goals. He made no mistake, slotting a major to get Canada Bay within three points.
And with Jordan’s sealer eight minutes later, the crowd erupted.
“It felt good to win like that,” Lee said after the game. “The boys should be proud of their effort.
“It was the test we needed as head into another tough match next week against Maroubra/Moore Park.”
Goals: George 1, Patrick 1, Joel 1, Jordan 1.