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It was an awkward drive to the game on Saturday. East Malvern kind of doesn’t know where or what it is. De La Salle awaited us with good form, having defeated Haileybury the previous week. Our form had been ok, but we needed to be on our mettle and keep winning to shore up that finals spot.

The Two’s dropped one they probably shouldn’t have. In recent weeks they have won comfortably enough without putting the foot on the gas. A settled line up would help.

One change in the main game, Lambert in for Ramshaw.

One thing that was immediately obvious is that De La adhere to an agreed game plan. From memory first time around, their youthful coach sounded like one more reliant on method and strategy than brute and bluster. They kicked short at kick ins, switched religiously (which I did around age 16), and were patient in waiting for opportunities to open up. Minahan was prominent early for the Roys but as in previous weeks, we were not finishing off our forward entries. Forwards were regularly conceding front spot. It was an end-to-end game, one point apiece at the 17-minute mark. Ted Clayton was pumping it forward, then Hogg intercepted an errant clearance for our first major. It was 9–8 our way at the first break. Another low scoring tussle.

There was a lot of technical instruction at the huddle, seemingly a response to De La’s heavy reliance on strategy. We were looking for ways of dismantling it. They kicked the first two, they looked ‘on’, we looked ‘off’. Turner then ignited the team with clever hands, and grunt work by Butler found Turner again, whose miss kick found Borland for a goal. We were back on level terms. Ligris was a delight in defence, sure hands and trusty left shoe, Seakins was attacking off half back, finding Minahan for a goal. The fuse had well and truly been lit, Hart marked beautifully and goaled after Toohey made the midfield his own. He has sure hands, a dogged mentality, and kicks with penetration. Minahan then intercepted again and converted. He was saving his best form before a university sojourn somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert. I’m tipping he won’t come back a cowboy. 39–21 at half time, things looking good for the Roy Boys.

Forward line pressure created the opportunity for a Lambert interception and goal, it was now a four-goal break, and maybe a feeling of comfort crept in. Danger, danger. For reasons unknown except to those who understand complacency, De La then kicked the next six. Their script and the non-contribution of many of our 22 had turned the game on its head. They kicked 6.1 in the third to our 1.4. They led by 9 points.

We needed to at least halve the stoppages, and be more direct with our forward entries. Green was again defending well, showing growth in his game. Lambert snapped one. Could we overrun the opposition again? The short answer was “no”. They converted when we didn’t, their numbers around the contest were greater, and there appeared to be greater will. A 74–61 loss, one we didn’t need to have.

The answers to our forward woes and other questions will be revealed in the evening air next Saturday against Old Haileybury. Remember, this is a twilight game, commencing at 4.45pm (I think).

Guy Gorilla

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