The BIG day had arrived and we found ourselves playing Park Orchards for the 2017 Premiership Cup. What a fantastic effort by the team over the previous three weeks to reach this final game of the season. The Hangar had been jumping all week and the Jets Army were out in force. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny Spring day – at last. The time had arrived and the boys ran out through a banner with the words: Reward – Respect – Redemption – Ruthless – Grit – Time to Live our Dream!
The Jets were kicking with the wind, but Park Orchards were on a mission to try and snag their first ever Senior flag and their third Premiership for the day. They managed to kick the first two goals before Jon Knudsen registered our first. A great passage of play starting from the backline saw the ball land in Jon Wynne’s safe hands and another goal on the board to even it up. That didn’t stay the case for too long as the opposition managed another two goals late in the quarter to go into the first break 13 points up.
The second quarter increased the intensity and both sides were fighting to put a score on the board. Park Orchards managed to kick true early while the Jets were inaccurate. The ball found its way again to our forward line, and through sheer persistence, Chris Colombo kicked the ball from the bottom of the pack to score our first goal for the quarter. This was quickly followed by another, from a great high mark to Jarrod Spurrell, who kicked it through the big sticks from a very very tight angle on the boundary. It was a 17 point ball game at the main break.
It was finals footy at its best, the scoreboard didn’t reflect the efforts, pressure being applied by both clubs. The Jets needed to come out firing in the third and had all the play in their forward line early, but the opposition we very strong in defence and the boys couldn’t break through for that elusive goal. Park Orchards scored the first goal of the quarter, but Jack Hendricks kicked a long goal to get the Jets on the board. The ball was again in our forward line but the pressure and contested footy shown by both sides made scoring very difficult. A kick towards our goal line was marked by Ben Abbruzzese right on the line and his resulting goal cut the lead to eight points at the 19 minute mark, only to see the opposition score the next one from the centre bounce. It was our turn at the next with Brent English doing what he does, running from the centre to kick goalward, resulting in a great mark by Ryan Young in front of the pack and in front of goal. The deficit was again eight points at the last break.
So would this be a fairytale ending? With the majority of the crowd behind the Jets, it seemed that way when Ben kicked the first goal of the last within the first two minutes - it was down to a two point ball game. And then a strong mark to Rob Savory and goal saw the Jets take the lead for the first time in the match. The ball was coming down to our forward line again, with a great kick from David Knowles looking like it was going through, only to be smothered on the line by the Park Orchards defender – so a point and slender nine point lead. The opposition then managed to break through and kick the next goal to close the gap and then another to take the lead back, and unfortunately with another goal in the dying minutes meant game over for the Jets.
Congratulations to Joel, his coaching staff and team for the season. What a journey they have taken the club on over the past five weeks, after just scraping into the finals. Their belief in themselves and the team grew each week after each – at times seemingly impossible – wins, their grit to achieve those fantastic results, their resilience to back up again after each win, to go that week further in the finals. Personally, the writer couldn’t be more proud of the boys and what they have done. As the Coach said after the match ‘This is not an end, this is a beginning!’
Hold your heads up boys! #WeAreHeathmont
Park Orchards 12.6-78
Goal Kickers: B. Abbruzzese 2, J. Knudsen 2, R. Savory, R. Young, J. Hendriks, J. Wynn, J. Spurrell
Best Players: R. Young, D. Sverns, J. Knudsen, T. Rourke, A. Knudsen, B. Abbruzzese
The sun was shining and the wind was barely blowing for the U19’s Grand Final clash against Park Orchards at East Burwood. The team were well prepared, and the mood was positive as the nervous energy levels built prior to game time. Coach Gary Burleigh ensured that the boys were focused on the first 20 minutes, and when the game started we got off to a good start with the first goal of the game to Trey Braione who was infringed around 30 metres out from goal. The tackling pressure dial was on maximum all day, and Connor Van Der Wal and Ryan Burleigh led the way with monster tackles in the opening term. Brent Honey seemed to be intercept-marking at will as his opponent could not get near the ball. Captain Lucas Grierson cut off an opposition forward entry then started a transition play that finished in a Fin Brown goal. We dominated the rucks through the great work of Cam Evans, but the clearances were even for the term. The opposition went into their forward 50 once more than us, and we hit quarter time down by five points after Park Orchards managed three goals to our two.
Cam and Ryan combined with a successful clearance at the opening of the second quarter (which they repeated at the start of the the third and fourth quarter), and when Jackson Scotti was infringed at the next stoppage he duly converted the free kick into a major. Reuben Brown was a rock in defence, Wade Van Leeuwen was involved in a large number of tight stoppages, and Trey added to the tackle count. The oppo went into attack twice the number of times we did in the quarter, but crucially when Cam Osborne pumped the ball forward to a pack, Fin Brown managed a crumbing goal to have us two points up at the half way mark of a hotly contested game.
The third quarter saw the Jets take the ball inside 50 just five times, but it spent a lot of time in there when it was. The problem was that there was stoppage after stoppage, and we just couldn’t find a way to clear it to convert. Our one major for the quarter was Fin’s third for the day, but despite the composure and resilience of our backs, Park Orchards kicked three successive goals to take a two goal lead into the last break.
The Jets threw everything but the kitchen sink at the opposition in the final term as we continuously attacked with the increasing wind. Wade Van Leeuwen had the Heathmont army of supporters on their feet when he kicked a major from 45 metres to narrow the margin. Jackson Scotti was everywhere with speed, interceptions, and he even auditioned for a Jackie Chan movie with an overhead upside-down kick in mid-air. Henry Ballard and Danny Palmer continued to deny the oppo, but despite the best efforts of our lads, we finished a tight Grand Final 11 points short.
It was certainly tough watching the Sharks celebrate their win, but every Heathmont supporter was really proud of the way that our U19’s went about it on the day, and also throughout Season 2017. The boys are a terrific bunch of mates, who are undoubtedly destined to be a huge part of the success of this wonderful club over the next 10 to 15 years. Stick together lads – we want to see you back in the same colours in 2018.
Don’t forget Presentation Night Thursday 28th at the Manhattan Hotel. Book your tickets via the Heathmont Jets Facebook page.
Personally, it have been a privilege to be part of the talented and committed coaching group this year, and to spend time with this awesome bunch of boys each week. Thank you for the incredible memories that I take from Season 2017.
Park Orchards 8.4-52
Goal Kickers: F. Brown 3, J. Scotti, T. Braione, W. Van Leeuwen
Best Players: F. Brown, B. Honey, R. Burleigh, C. Evans, R. Brown, J. Scotti