Un­der 14s show their fi­nals class

Mansfield Courier - - SCOREBOARD - By KEN ‘BALD EA­GLE’ MUR­RAY

THE mighty un­der 14 Ea­glets trav­elled to the Wan­garatta Rovers home ground on Sun­day to take on the Myrtle­ford Saints in the qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal.

Fresh from a win in the fi­nal round against the Saints, the boys rightly en­tered the game con­fi­dent.

In what was a hotly con­tested game in the first half, it was the Saints who had the bet­ter of the Mans­field boys.

With some in­ac­cu­rate kick­ing from the Ea­gles, they went into the main break 13 points down, with some in­jury con­cerns also weigh­ing heav­ily on the group.

De­spite those con­cerns, it was a fleet of first year play­ers that could hold their heads high.

Jack Cross was given the op­por­tu­nity to gal­lop around the wing with fel­low young gun Colby Crox­fordDe­masi, and the pair of them did ev­ery­thing they could be­fore the main break.

Harry Ma­honey and Sammy Thom­son were in and un­der and threat­en­ing, while the work horse Nick Wat­son was bat­tling his heart out against older and big­ger op­po­si­tion.

Pat Ma­honey was hold­ing firm yet again in the back line, and with­out Bull Smith nearby, he took on the task of play­ing on the Saints’ premier for­ward.

With his op­po­nent rack­ing up 50 goals this year, ‘P-Mah’ got him­self on top early with his trade­mark dash from de­fence which left his op­po­nent flat footed.

Isaac Mur­ray was fight­ing hard in the de­fence, as was the un­well Paddy ‘G Train’ Grif­fiths, who al­most didn’t take the field due to ill­ness.

The mid­field was show­ing fight and class with the likes of Joel Sand­ford and Blake Az­zopardi us­ing the ball beau­ti­fully to keep the boys within reach.

The de­fen­sive run­ning was a real high­light from these two lads, and it spoke vol­umes of their char­ac­ter which was to be called on in the sec­ond half.

Af­ter a re-shuf­fle of the board, and some words of en­cour­age­ment, the boys took to the field in the third quar­ter full of belief that they were still well in the game.

With the Big Bull Pat Smith find­ing some­thing to over­come his in­jury to re-join his team, the boys re­ally straight­ened up and looked like the Ea­glets we have come to know.

This is when the game took a dra­matic turn, as the boys blew the game apart with a five goal to noth­ing third term.

While sev­eral play­ers lifted, none stood out more than Sammy Thom­son.

Spend­ing more time in the for­ward line, he was ev­ery­where and clean as a whis­tle by hand and foot, to slam home four goals for the quar­ter.

Given the size of the op­po­nents around him, it was a great dis­play of de­ter­mi­na­tion to out-play them con­tin­u­ously, es­pe­cially when he is a first year player.

While the small brigade was do­ing the dam­age on the score­board, Gus Mur­ray re­sponded in the sec­ond half with some hard bruis­ing work that opened play up for his team mates, also grab­bing a goal him­self.

And speak­ing of big fel­las, Paddy Smith was back to his best in the fi­nal half.

Break­ing open packs, he freed up Pat Ma­honey to run and open up the op­po­si­tion through the mid­dle, and ‘blow up’ his op­po­nent in the process.

Justin Sar­gent con­tin­ued his emer­gence in an eye-catch­ing game in which he dis­played great dash, and also an abil­ity to read the play.

Justin was su­per im­por­tant in the sec­ond half, and de­spite leav­ing the ground mid-way through the fi­nal term, posted a real team lifter in the last.

Wat­son con­tin­ued his emer­gence with a dom­i­nant game all over the ground, and in do­ing so, ran his op­po­si­tion ruck­man off his feet.

And with Sand­ford, Az­zopardi, Ge­ordie McLen­nan, De­masi and Luke Mur­ray get­ting right on top, the fight drained away from the Saints.

De­spite giv­ing away a two goal lead at half time, the boys held them goal­less in the sec­ond half to run away 48 point win­ners for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week, and sets up a tan­ta­lis­ing clash against the Be­nalla Giants.

Af­ter go­ing down twice dur­ing the sea­son by three and eight points re­spec­tively, the boys will be con­fi­dent they can get one back against them to se­cure a grand fi­nal berth.

The game will be played at Wan­garatta on Sun­day, with de­tails still to be con­firmed about time and ground.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the en­tire team on a ter­rific come from be­hind per­for­mance that il­lus­trated just how much im­prove­ment this group has made dur­ing the year.

Ten weeks ago, the Saints beat Mans­field by 50 points, so the im­prove­ment among the team is sig­nif­i­cant to say the least. Bring on the Giants, and go Ea­gles. Mans­field 11-10-76 def Myrtle­ford Saints 3-10-28

Goal Kick­ers: S.Thom­son 5, J.Sand­ford 2, J.Sar­gent, A.Mur­ray, B.Az­zopardi, P.Grif­fiths

Best Play­ers: S.Thom­son, N.Wat­son, J.Sand­ford, P.Ma­honey, C.Crox­fordDe­masi, J.Cross

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