UNDER 15 DIVISION 2
Old Park, Penshurst
Sunday April 8
PENSHURST PANTHERS 9.0.54
CANADA BAY CANNONS 6.17.53
A desperate Penshurst Panthers goal into the breeze in the final minute pipped an under-manned Canada Bay by a point in a match the Cannons will say they let slip through their fingers.
A player short, the Cannons couldn’t convert their scoring shots and kicked an astonishing 17 behinds on the expanses of Olds Park. In the confines of the dressing sheds straight after the game, coach Dean Lee kicked 17 behinds too.
He and the players alike lamented the loss. And his comments didn’t miss their mark because each person in that room expected more.
“I am disappointed in the effort,” a sombre but frustrated Lee said after the game.
“We rushed our shots, didn’t look for the right options and we dropped off in defence at crucial moments,” he said.
“The match should have been over by half-time because we had so much of the ball and dominated the attack but we blew our opportunities,” he said. “We gifted that game to them”.
Despite gorging on possession and territory for much of match the Cannons rained 23 scoring shots on the opponents’ goal but harvested only six majors.
The home team’s efficiency was first rate by comparison. Nine straight kicks got them home. Eight of them came in the second half.
The Cannons had carved a 36-6 lead by the long break. But the scoreboard said it all: 4 goals, 11 behinds to the visitors’ solitary major.
They started the match running into a stiff north-westerly breeze but their sheer dominance out of the centre and pace up the flanks rattled the Panthers.
Stand-in ruckman Jordan found himself on the end of a good run to land Canada Bay’s first goal just four minutes in. From that point the visitors had their confidence up and had their opposites on the back foot.
And there were plenty of good signs with Pat, Michael, Jaden and Gus each having their moments. Joshua was strong in the air while Max stood like a block of flats in defence and outmuscled the Panthers.
A free kick to Penshurst while at point-blank range landed them the first and only score for the half.
The breeze at their backs in the second term allowed the Cannons to take up permanent residence in their forward half. But it soon became a rabble in the over-crowded 50 metre arc as “squatters” moved in from Canada Bay’s midfield and destroyed their positional structure.
The Cannons rushed scoring shots and exercised poor passing options. They managed 1.8.14 for the quarter and in doing so, managed to stir the beast inside their coach.
He pleaded for order and accountability from all players in his animated half-time address.
His players appeared to respond, landing a goal off the stray boot of bulldozer George.
The Panthers pounced while the Cannons turned into the kittens. Five unanswered goals gave Penshurst a sniff – just eights points behind going into the last quarter.
The closing term was set-up for a barnstorming finish.
Then the diminutive and brave Damian stood tall and goaled three minutes in.
Despite strong marking and tough defence in patches, the Cannons appeared to put the cue in the rack early. The Panthers kicked three unlikely goals against the wind – the last and killer blow coming in the final minute.
The boys had plenty of time for self-reflection after the game, each vowing to regroup and do better in the the next match … and they need to. The road to the 2017 finals will be a tough one and while the Cannons have the team to do it, they realise now they will have to earn it.
CANNONS GOALS: George 2, Jordan 1, Pat 1, Joel 1, Damian 1.
CANNONS BEST: Joshua, Gus, Jaden, Michael, Damian, Matt, Pat, Joel.