After 11 games, 8 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses the U12 Bronze team find themselves in the Grand Final playing the undefeated Aquinas Colts. It has been quite a season for the Bronze team, who at times have played with a style and panache that opposition teams have been unable to live with and other times, they have dug deep and ground out results playing ugly but effective footy.
They go into today's final as clear underdogs against an Aquinas team that deserves respect and praise. Played 10 won 10 is a great feat in a competitive league and they have racked up some big scores over the course of the season. However, this Tigers team possesses the perfect mix of skill, heart and an indefatigable spirit, it would be no surprise if they defeat the Colts for the first time this season in the final game of the season, the one that matters, the GRAND FINAL.
U12 Bronze Tigers 10 Aquinas Colts 24
In overcast conditions and a waterlogged pitch that resembled a patchwork of small lakes, the Tigers met the Colts in today's Grand Final. Both teams, had plenty of support and it was great to see so much orange and black in the crowd, cheering the Tigers on.
The Tigers kicked off and defended the clubhouse end. A couple of good tackles by Bede Staniforth and Leo Giovenco put the Colts under pressure early, before a smart run by Lewis Amesbury forced an error by the Colts and gave the Tigers the ball. In the Tigers first set they played simple one man out stuff and advanced the ball close to the Colts line. On the next set the Colts came close to scoring, when a kick into the in-goal nearly resulted in a try, but a knock-on in the grounding gave the Tigers back the ball.
The Colts were looking strong up the middle and their big boys were making easy metres with the Tigers continually falling off tackles. This approach eventually paid off for the Colts who scored during their next set to take a 6-0 lead. A couple of penalties to the Tigers gave them good field position but an errant pass gave the Colts the ball back after some promising play from the Tigers. In the next set, the Tigers held out the Colts with good tackles from Patrick Graham, Leo Giovenco and Hunter Loveday. From the kick, Jensen Bunyan collected the ball and set off down the wing. The crowd got excited as he beat a couple of defenders and looked like he was about to recreate last week's heroics, but a strong covering tackle by the Colts ended the attack and forced Jensen out of play.
The Colts continued to play the game in the Tigers half and were creating chances out wide. The Tigers defence was getting through a tonne of work and were doing well to hold out the Colts. Lewis Amesbury, Liam Good and Bailey Mason made some fantastic last line tackles and the Tigers were doing well to hold wave after wave of Colts attack out. With a couple of minutes remaining in the first half the Colts scored a fortunate try when their player advanced through a gap in the middle, hit the goal post pads and looked to have dropped the ball. However, the try was awarded and this gave the Colts a 12-0 halftime lead.
Going into the break the Colts were clearly on top, with the Tigers defending for most of the half. The Tigers have dug in well, but have just not had enough ball to pressure the Colts. What’s needed in the second time is some self belief from the Tigers, some possession and good ball retention and this might swing the second half in favour of the Tigers.
In the second half the Colts carried on where they left off in the first, pressuring the Tigers defence and rolling forward at every opportunity. The Tigers big men, Leo Giovenco, Lucius Viteri, Reece Amos, Will Janssen and Mason Holiday were trying to build momentum but just saw too little of the ball to trouble the Colts. The Colts pressure paid off again soon after and they were able to score and go out to an 18-0 lead. This sparked the Tigers into action and their creative players in Levi Dawson, Lewis Amesbury and Bede Staniforth started to find space and attack the Colts defence. They were well supported by Patrick Graham, Hunter Loveday and Max Cooper and for the first time in the game the Tigers started to get the ascendency. This pressure finally resulted in a try to Bede Staniforth who collect the ball on the right wing and scored in the corner to get the Tigers on the board 18-6.
The pressure however, was short lived, with the Colts scoring on the next set to take a commanding 24-6 lead with a couple of minutes remaining. We then had some comical scenes in the final minute with the Tigers scoring after the bell. The Colts players celebrated on hearing the final whistle, not realising that the ball was still in play. Mason Holiday picked up the loose ball and ran to the try line to score and make the final result 24-10 to the Colts.
In summary the Tigers met a stronger and more determined Colts outfit. The fact that the Colts went through the season undefeated is a great effort and the Tigers should be proud that they pushed them all the way today. A big Tigers thank you to Steve, Mark and Belinda who have done a great job in supporting the boys this season. It's a great group with a positive culture and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve together in 2023.
We would like to thank all our sponsors for helping us get through another challenging season and we look forward to doing it all again in 2023. Please enjoy the photos from today's game.