Willetton vs High Wycombe

Posted on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 Willetton Football Club

Uwane flew high against Coolbinia and for Willetton to win, they'll need to dominate in the air

It was a bit of a let-down last weekend, with both the Colts & the Womens' team losing their respective finals, however the integrated team were able to get home after a strong last quarter.

After winning all but one of their 9 games in the regular season, the Colts suffered a close loss by 8 points, almost stealing the game in the last quarter after trailing throughout most of the match. At the same time, the womens' lost another thriller, this time thanks to a controversial goal after the siren that denied us a historic premiership in our first year fielding a womens' team. While the pain of losing a grand final is heartbreaking, we know that the womens' team will come back stronger and it was still a terrific achievement to get this far.

While the Colts had a second chance because they finished 1st, the integrated team (led out by Z.Aquino last week) had to win in order to progress. The finals system changed back to original system that was in place in the VFL from 1931 to 1976, with the top 4 teams playing off in a 1st vs 2nd, 3rd vs 4th. The winner of the first final would go straight to the grand final, while the loser would play the winner of the second final.

High Wycombe are the team that our Integrated team will be facing off against for that second spot in the final, same as last year. Last time we played the bulldogs, we went down by 5 goals but were severely undermanned and we'll be looking at our previous final win against High Wycombe, which was by 10 goals at home. The support we got for that game definitely helped and we'll be well supported this week as well, even though we'll be away.

Last week

In a brilliant turn of events, our integrated team won by 4 points in the elimination final after being down by 4 goals at three quarter time. We trailed all day; first we conceded 14 points in the first quarter without scoring a single one ourselves. It got worse in the second, while we got our first goal Kingsway piled on 2 more and were seemingly headed to the preliminary final.

At half time, we were down by 20 points and it looked like a wasted season. We were struggling to execute our game plan, which relies on a lot of run-and-carry and we instead reverted to bombing it into the forward line, which often left us undermanned in the midfield. Kingsway scored all of their goals from defensive rebounds as we'd all pushed up deep into the forward line and they had plenty of free men to keep possession.

More of the same followed in the third quarter, with 2 goals kicked. First Jack Zonca marked on 50 but played on and provided a stab kick to Liam Arbuckle, who marked 25 out before slotting it, cutting the deficit to just 12. We'd directed a lot of attacking play into our forward line that quarter, even without playing our preferred game style, but we missed some gettable chances. From one of those, Kingsway were able to rebound and kick an easy goal, with both Liam and Ash deep in defense it looked like we had actually got a finger to it, but the goal umpire had waved his flags and that late goal halted our momentum.

At three quarter time we were despondent, however our coach "Mogs" refused to give up. She put our strongest players into the forward line and midfield, explaining that by keeping the same formation that we had for the whole game the margin would stay the same.

You might as well lose by 10 goals than by 4, and I'd rather us have a crack and lose by that 10 goals instead of playing shit and losing by 4 in a performance devoid of the Willetton brand of footy.

Despite this encouragement, most of the players went into that final huddle without a shadow of doubt that we'd be drinking beers this time next Saturday. What turned it around for us, no doubt, was the Colts boys and staff coming down to watch us.

Tyson Worthington set up the first goal, with a beautiful kick from outside the 50 that just fell short, it was left to our full forward Ash North to convert the easiest of goals. Running back for the center bounce, our crowd started to come alive and with it belief.

Almost immediately after that goal, Kingsway got a good tap out of the middle and pumped it straight into their forward line. The Kingsway forward had a shot from point blank range and missed, however that meant the margin went from 12 to 13, boosting the difference by more than 2 goals. We were completely unaware of how much time there was left on the clock, but it seemed like to get 3 scoring shots - at least 2 would have to be goals - just to draw the match would be a step too far, especially with the ball in our defence with our strongest players stationed on the other side of the oval. But our engine room started to work overtime, and we got a quick possession chain into the forward line within 20 seconds. Uwane "Eddie Betts" Akor kicked a floating boomerang from 30 meters, and suddenly it was 7 points the difference. A series of points followed before the most amazing checkside snap from 50 left Tyson's boot and squeezed in for a goal, just to the right of the goal post. We'd kicked a series of points to get within 4, and we were full of belief. Every single time we pumped it into the forward line, we heard a cheer from the colts boys, including Tom and Jay, and that gave us courage. At that point we felt that there was at least 4 minutes left, but there was only 2. We kicked another point to put us 3 up, before the second potential game changing moment came.

We gave away a free kick in the forward 50 and Tyson was on the mark. While it was deep in our forward line, we had camped everyone down there so if they got lucky and were able to break, it was essentially game over. Tyson smothered the ball - rather, he plucked the ball from the air - and kicked the final score of the day - a point. 4 points up, the siren went soon after. Still standing, and into next week. Our captain Geoff couldn't believe we'd won it, but we all - colts, integrated and coaches - got into a circle and sang the team song.

Massive thanks to the Colts boys coming down, you turned the game for us. The support you gave was unbelievable. We truly loved it. Every goal, every tackle, every mark. You made an atmosphere that was even better than the MCG on ANZAC Day. Our sense of self belief was shot to bits at 3QT but somehow we found that little bit of skill and confidence to fight back. To see you down at Yokine, after losing your FIRST final, meant so much. It would have been easier to just go home and get to work on preparing for next week. But you came to cheer on guys that you barely know.

Looking ahead...

While it won't be an easy match, the entire team's looking forward to the preliminary final and we know we can win. While we lost to the Bulldogs last time, we were severely undermanned, without Garry, Tyson, Richo, Tyler and Uwane (while Ash & Geoff would both suffer injuries in that game that forced them off the field). Elijah Gardi (who won team B&F in his debut season) was best on ground in one of the best games he played. Eli's quite a tall guy and used his strength to his advantage, and while giving away a few frees he grew in confidence, and therefore for a lot of us it was a really important match. It was also our first loss in 2020 so it was important to not get carried away with winning every single game. Having said that, we would have liked to have won.

If we win this, we'll be through to a second grand final, in only our fourth season since establishment. Regardless of the result, it's been a great season. A lot of us were quite nervous at the start of the year due to the players we lost, and I personally thought we'd struggle to make the top 4. But we're one game away from a grand final, and we're continually building towards something great. We've already got 3 new players prepared to play next year (as they're ineligible for the finals), and the further we go the more we can encourage players from other teams to come along and join in. Everyone's improving and getting a game, and that's the prime focus.

Predicted line-up


NamePositionGames 2020
Reece WilkieFullback5
Aaron RichardsonFullback7
Charlotte ArmstrongFullback7
Zac PalmerHalfback10
Gary SchulzCentre Halfback6
Darryl DempsterHalfback4
Elijah GardiRuckHalf-forward flank10
Uwane AkorRuck-roverHalf-forward flank9
Geoff StewartMidfieldWing10
Liam ArbuckleHalf-forward flankWingAttacking midfielder10
Jack ZoncaWingDefensive midfielder4
Tyson WorthingtonRoverAttacking midfielderCentre Halfback9
Kevin PhillipsHalf-forward flankRuck support10
Zachary AquinoCentre half-forwardRuck support10
Josh EvansHalf-forward8
Ben ArmstrongFull forward8
Ash NorthFull forwardFullback10
Connar OlsenFull forward10

We've struggled for numbers a lot this season, with injuries (especially to Tyler, who's been out since round 5 against Kingsway with a collarbone injury) costing us. However, we're almost there.

Liam Arbuckle - Developer " I highly recommend Liam Arbuckle's leadership skills. I have coached Liam for three years as part of my role at the Willetton Football Club. During that time, Liam would continuously seek ways to improve his leadership skills. Coach larbuckle.tech

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