U12 medal

2016 Premiers: Under 12 Div 2

Canada Bay Under 12 Division 2 v Pennant Hills

Grand Final, Sunday 4 September

Ross Gwilliam Oval, Macquarie University

What could be better than winning a grand final by one point? Doing it on Fathers’ Day!

These kids sure know how to treat their mums and dads. They gave us the Mothers’ Day Miracle in May and now the Fathers’ Day Fantasy.

But they make us sweat.

Time and again this year we’ve said these kids have guts, character and resolve.

They just wanted to prove it one last time in the biggest possible moment. To stick at a tight grand final all day, trail by less than a goal at every change, hit the lead halfway through the last quarter and then hang on in a desperate and frantic last five minutes.

The backline, like in the prelim, was massive. Led by Will, who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, they held out attack after attack as Pennant Hills were camped in their forward line and tried everything to snare that winning goal in the dying minutes. Each time that goal looked inevitable, a Cannon threw himself on a Penno boot, smothered, tackled or punched the ball clear. It was inspiring stuff.

Penno edged closer and closer, point by point with a few rushed behinds, but, thanks to the relentless Cannons pressure, they couldn’t bridge the gap before that beautiful final siren blew.

After the lead changed hands four times in the gripping first half, Penno got on top in the third quarter and went away to a 10 point lead midway through the term, the biggest lead of the day.

But we just knew the Cannons weren’t about to drop their heads. They kept fighting, kept themselves in the contest and Alex’s third goal for the day put us within three points at three-quarter time.

They believed they could do it and they believed in what Coach Tony told them:­ if they kept tackling, pressuring and helping each other the game would turn their way. They did and it did.

An early behind in the last quarter stretched Penno’s lead to four points, but the Cannons persevered and the tide turned. Once again it started with desperate defence; Will, Ben C, Connor, Fergus, Archie, Jezza, Blake and Brayden fought for the footy like men possessed. The ball ended up on the flank with Cooper, who sent it wide to Damo on the outer wing.

Damo had space, but only after he burned off a flailing Demon with sheer pace, took a couple of bounces as he dashed down the wing and sent the ball long into an open forward line, otherwise known as Thea’s Paddock.

Thea turned a couple of defenders inside out, gathered the ball and, still under extreme pressure, slotted the goal from close range and we were back in front for the first time since the second quarter.

Two minutes later, strong defence sent the ball back into the middle where Tank earned a free kick. He reacted quickly when he saw the paddock open, kicked the ball long and again Thea collected the footy to kick another pressure goal and, suddenly, we were nine points up late in a grand final.

And didn’t the crowd full of family, friends and clubmates love it! And didn’t they then endure the longest eight minutes of the year:­ the team manager was asked the time more than the old talking clock.

Penno hit back with a goal to make the final minutes even more tense but every Cannon threw themselves at every contest and helped each other like great mates, for an amazing end result.

The tone was set in the first quarter ­when Finlay saw the biggest kid on the field coming at him, he licked his lips, rubbed his hands together, wrapped his arms around the big fella and threw him down with the tackle of the season. More inspiring stuff.

From that moment on, everyone knew they had to do the hard things as well as the skilful things.

It was a classic grand final of grit, skill and character and our guys did it just that little bit better.

The game was a typical grand final arm wrestle early on with neither team able to gain any momentum until Alex pulled out one of his best magic tricks of the year to kick the opening goal (his 50th for the season) with a banana grubber from close to the boundary.

Nic was everywhere and racking up effective possessions and Paddy was winning the ball by going in hard, while Penno kicked a late long range goal to go into quarter time two points up.

A Damo tackle saved a goal early in the second term, Ferg took some telling marks, Whitey was clever and elusive and JA was an effective linkman between defence and attack. But scoring was still difficult for both teams until Cooper’s strong pack mark at centre half forward gave him a set shot which he calmly potted.

Ben M and Liam were crucial up forward as they provided strong contests and Dominator made an impact.

Everybody contributed to a great win to end a great season.

Great thanks and congratulations to Tony for the way he instilled a strong team ethic and belief among the kids as well as his emphasis on skills development, not to mention his calm and ultra-effective approach on match day.

And we must also acknowledge the great contribution Andrew and Clint have made to the football development of the Drummoyne kids over a long time –  seven years for many of them.

(And of course thanks to Luke for the biggest and best looking Under 12s banner ever seen.)

Thank you to Pennant Hills Demons – worthy opponents in a classic grand final game.

CANADA BAY 6.6 (42) Goals: Alex 3, Thea 2, Cooper 1

PENNANT HILLS 5.11 (41)