It was a case of Round 18 déjà vu for the Jets. Similar to Season 2017 we needed to get the job done in the last round to qualify for finals. Back into the senior team this week were Jordan Haynes, Gary Conyers, Ben Irvine and Chris Columbo. Waverley were sitting seventh on the ladder and no doubt keen to finish with a win after coming down from Division 2 at the end of last season.
The scoreboard operator’s afternoon started when Ryan Young roved off the pack and put through the first of the day for the Jets. The very strong wind across ground to scoreboard side combined with a wet surface due to a shower just before the game made clean ball handling difficult. The Jets defenders were under pressure early, as the conditions contributed to skill errors creating turnovers. The lead changed as Waverley made the most of their first two scoring shots with straight kicks for two majors. Overlap run through the middle by Alan Pettigrew ignited the Jets as he sent the ball deep into the forward line where Fin Brown gathered a ground ball and dished off to Leigh Odermatt who acrobatically soccered a mid-air goal. Jake Sherriff played well all afternoon as an undersized key defender, and was physical on the last line of defence deep into the quarter. Heathmont entered the first break trailing by the smallest of margins. We were beaten badly in clearances, and the opposition was able to feed out the back then switch and rebound too easily.
The lead was reclaimed by the Jets quickly in the second quarter via a Ben Abbruzzese set shot. We controlled all the early play with two other shots inside the first three minutes, but each of these were astray. The weather became nasty again, but Ryan Young defied the conditions to snap his second goal. The Blues responded to narrow the margin, but Youngy manufactured his third for the day with a crumb and snap in a crowded forward line. A scrappy entry by Waverley led to a mark and goal and the difference was back to less than a goal. Lucas Grierson was composed and clean on the last line of defence and Lachie Sverns spoiled repeated opposition forward entries in a mature game. The margin at the long break was five points to the advantage of the visitors, but each team had put up 11 scoring shots. It had been an improved quarter from the Jets through sharing by hand better, and shutting down the oppo run.
The third term saw Jordan Haynes capitalise on intense forward pressure as he kicked a nice goal to celebrate his first game of footy since April. Ben Irvine then drilled a perfect centering pass from deep on the boundary on the attacking 50 arc right to Leigh Odermatt who made no mistake. Minutes later Ben Irvine then found Lucas Grierson, whose neat pass to Gary Conyers resulted in Gaz slotting a goal from a tight angle. Waverley managed a goal at the 29 minute mark, before Gary Conyers kicked his second to give the Jets a 28 points ascendancy at three quarter time. The switching and inside 50 counts were highlights on the stats board for the term. Effective smothering generated many turnovers for the Jets right through the game but inaccurate goal kicking in the third term resulted in seven behinds.
The work rate of Bailey Stevens was fantastic right through the game, and he was involved in several forward entries as the game wore on. Ben Abbruzzese worked quick hands to Ryan Burleigh who kicked our first of the last quarter increasing the margin to six goals. Heathmont was doing all the attacking, and had plenty of more shots but accuracy evaded us. Chris Columbo showed his speed in a footrace on the flank, and with support from Oders won the contest to set up a Jordan Haynes set shot goal. Waverley managed a couple of late goals but the Jets closed out the game as 25 point winners. All Jets fans congratulate the three mens' teams on making the finals, and we look forward to the Elimination Final clash next week.
Goal Kickers: R. Young 3, J. Haynes 2, L. Odermatt 2, G. Conyers 2, B. Abbruzzese, R. Burleigh
Best Players: L. Grierson, B. Stevens, B. Irvine, J. Sherriff, J. Haynes, L. Sverns
We ventured down to Waverley Blues for the first time in a couple of decades for the last home and away match for the season. The DSquad had locked in the double chance no matter which way the scores went but it would be nice to end the season on a win. Jono was back in the side, Beaser was back from his overseas trip, Ali and AMac were back down from the Seniors, Robby made a brief appearance before being called up to the Seniors due to the late withdrawal of Captain Dylan Sverns. The weather conditions would play a major part in the game especially the wind factor.
The early part of the quarter saw the ball spend it’s time in the Jets forward pocket but no-one seemed able to convert and the ball was whisked away by the Blues and they kicked the first goal. It was proving to be a tight contest by both teams with stoppages around the ball and no real opportunity for the free flowing game we have come to see from the boys. We had a nice passage of play through a series of handpasses from Truck to Parks to Connor who found Davey O’Brien in the forward pocket - but the wind took the kick and it was only a point. Connor was working hard in the ruck and Henry Ballard was mopping up everything that came his way in the backline, and proving to be the first line of attack which finally saw the ball move forward and found Dougie who kicked to Rob Savory in a better position for our first goal of the quarter at the ten minute mark. The Blues managed to get a quick reply. The ball found its way out of the centre at the next bounce and Josh Kral and Nick Seller combined through a flurry of hands and feet to score the next goal, with Nick navigating the ball through the big sticks. It was a two point ball game at the end of the first quarter as the rain started to come down.
Justin Ballard was taking a turn in the ruck against a seemingly Waverley Blue’s giant and making a good fist of it. The opposition again had the ball down in their forward line in the opening minutes of the second quarter but our defence stood strong and the ball was taken down field by Truck who seemed to be everywhere on the ground. The weather was playing havoc with our accuracy at the goals. Again the Blues moved the ball down to their forward line and again the backline held strong and moved it back down the field. A strong mark to Connor a far way out from goal saw another point on the board, but the kick out saw a terrific mark to Henry who found Sellar who in turn scored our only goal for that quarter. At half time the Jets held an eight point lead and had managed to keep the opposition scoreless.
The weather was certainly settling in with some lightning and thunder greeting the opening of the third quarter. The Blues jumped out of the box and scored the first goal within minutes. Jono was relishing the conditions and seemed to have become a ball magnet but kicking for goal was proving difficult as the points mounted up. Their defence was also preventing us from scoring. Finally Davey O ended up with the ball and goaled at the 14 minute mark. The opposition took it out of the centre once more, only to see it repelled back to our forward line towards a waiting Parks who marks strongly and goals! The sun is now out and the rain has stopped – but for how long? The ball found its way again to Parks who was spoiled but managed to push it forward to a waiting Josh Kral who goaled. Waverley managed a quick reply. As the quarter came to an end the rucks managed to get it out of the centre to a running AMac who scored our fourth for the quarter which saw the Squad go in at the last break with a 24 point lead.
It turned out to be an inspired move by the coach with Justin Ballard finding himself in the forward line and in everything. We got a glimpse of what was coming in a running passage of play and series of handpasses starting with Ders, to Truck, to Justin who only managed a point this time. Next it was Connor running out of the centre and a strong mark to Justin saw his first goal of the day. The ball found its way back to the opposition’s forward line, where again the backline of Beaser, Deccers and Henry stood strong and moved the ball out of danger through another series of handpasses and kicks, to again find Justin who kicks his second goal. In another passage of play, started by Jack Leithhead, the ball goes to Dougie to Josh Kral who picks it up and goals. It was getting a bit willing at this stage with a yellow card give after a crude tackle on Tyson Walshe. The last minutes of the game saw us peppering the goals but the accuracy wasn’t there. When the siren rang to signal the end of the game, the DSquad had won by 38 points and now face Ferntree Gully in the Qualifying final next Saturday at East Burwood.
Goal Kickers: N. Seller 2, J. Ballard 2, J. Kral 2, D. O’Brien, A. McIntosh, R. Savory, N. Park
Best Players: J. Leithhead, J. Hendriks, J. Ballard, L. Douglas, H. Ballard, D. Robson-Long
We travelled to Mt Waverley Reserve to take on Waverley Blues in a battle for top spot with the Blues having been the only team to beat us this season. They beat us by 33 points way back in Round 4 and we have won 12 games in a row since then. We were looking forward to the challenge of playing the best team in our comp.
The coach had the boys wound up and we came out firing in the first quarter laying a season high 18 tackles and applying pressure all over the ground. We kicked the first goal through a mark and set shot to Jack McNeil and Cam Osborne kicked a lovely goal on the run but some missed opportunities meant we into quarter time with a slender 10 point lead, 2.5.17 to 1.1.7
The second quarter the Blues started to get on top of us with five more inside 50’s and beat us in the clearances. We managed to only kick one goal for the quarter to Trey Braione to their two goals which meant we went into halftime with the scores level at 3.6.24 apiece. It was becoming a real battle with plenty of hard footy but we were standing up to their pressure. In particular the backline lead by Mikey Palmer and Nathan Amos with good support from Angus Puddy, Ben North and Jack Farrell was making life difficult for the Blues.
The third quarter saw the Blues have the advantage with the breeze getting stronger and halfway through the quarter we found ourselves two goals down and looking in a bit of strife. Our leaders in Trey and Lachie Purkis decided enough was enough with Trey kicking his second goal for the game against the flow of play. Jake Herring was throwing himself into everything before Trent Wynne kicked another just before three quarter time and we suddenly found ourselves back in front with a bit of momentum heading into the last quarter. Scores 5.9.39 to 5.7.37
For the start of the last quarter we made some changes putting Harry Isaacs to CHF to get him into the play, Reuben Brown went into the ruck, Declan Browne went on the ball and Kane Ponton to CHB. Reuben won the first tap and we got the ball quickly into our forward line and Trey kicked a magnificent goal out of the pack at half forward which sailed through. It was just the start we needed. We won the next clearance and the ball was now trapped in our forward 50 and they couldn’t get it out. Harry kicked a goal around his body to put us 14 points up after some great forward pressure before Lachie smothered a kick then got the ball back before straightening up from 50 on the run to put it straight through the middle and put us 20 points up with not long to go. The Blues got one back but they couldn’t match our hardness and intensity in the last quarter and we ran out winners by 15 points.
It was a great team performance but we know if we are going to win the premiership we are probably going to have beat the Waverley Blues twice to do it. Finishing on top is fitting reward to all of the players for the effort they have put in this season, but we know the real stuff is only just beginning and we can’t wait to play our first final in two weeks’ time.
Goal Kickers: T Braione 3, J McNeil, L Purkis, C Osborne, T Wynne, H Isaacs
Best Players: L Purkis, T Braione, M Palmer, J Herring, T Wallace, N Amos