Our first competitive practice match of the season was against long time local rival Whitefriars. We hosted the Friars at Bloods Stadium in the U19’s, Reserves and Seniors.
The U19’s kicked off the day with our 25 keen and fit Young Bloods faced with the prospect of opposing 40 Friars. It was understood that the better of the Friars players would be rested until the second half. With that being said the Aquinas boys jumped out of the blocks and played some super footy early in the match. We were still leading until 3/4 time in the match before the fresher legs combined with the higher skills of the opposition players told and we ultimately went down 6.4.40 to 9.12.66
Best players for the U19s were Harry Dwyer with 3 goals, Kieran Hummel in defence, Luke Lattimer in the middle and Jacob Costello around the ground. Lachy Steer also used his height, kicking 2 goals.
The Reserves started off slowly as the Friars peppered their forward 50 for much of the first quarter, managing to kick the first two goals of the game. At quarter time The Bloods trailed by 6 points but were looking forward to the aid of the breeze in the second quarter. The second quarter was a much more positive affair as we dominated the play all over the ground but at times failed to hit the scoreboard. Nonetheless we led at the main change by 10 points. The second half was all Aquinas as we punished the forward running style of the Friars and caught them napping on the turnover time after time. A bench of 6 players probably helped in this regard as the Friars didn’t have any interchange players for the second half. The only negative for the day was the serious injury to captain Jake Kogelman who dislocated his hip and fractured his pelvis after courageously backing back into a pack. This shocking injury has effectively ended his football career. Our thoughts are with Roger. Final scores were Aquinas 10.15.75 Vs Whitefriars 2.9.21
Best players for the Reserves were Shane Fox in his return after 10 years away from the club, former club captain Nick Morrison-Story off a back flank, Phil Dyck changing in the ruck and Hans Tyssen in his return from a long lay off.
The seniors had a massive test against a team competing in D1 this season. After a huge preseason with not one session below 50 players it was going to be a good benchmark of where we are at as a club at this stage of the season. The added incentive for the boys was the fact we were playing for the prestigious Wilkinson-Strike Cup which we had held since 2010 when both clubs were last in D1 together.
Kicking against the wind The Bloods took a little bit of time to get going. The first quarter was a typically scratchy affair as both clubs felt each other out and perhaps typical of a practice match the skills weren’t quite there early on. The quarter time siren saw the home side trailing by 7 points. The second quarter was where Aquinas really put the foot down as we kicked 7 goals straight to 2 behinds. This was a fantastic quarter of run and skill and was probably better than any 30 minute performance we put together at any stage last season. Leading at half time by 33 points the message from new Senior Coach Ash Naulty was to not let up and to recognise the importance of what this performance meant to the club.
The second half was a much lower scoring affair for both sides and after the excitement of the second quarter The Bloods were not able to emulate this again. Despite not setting the scoreboard on fire we managed to keep the Friars at bay and ran out 32 point winners. Final score Aquinas 12.3.75 Vs Whitefriars 5.13.43
Best players for the Seniors were Liam Whelan with 4 goals, Jai Perrett who worked hard at CHF all day, Club Coach Ash Naulty in the ruck and Club Captain Lachy Barnes who provided his usual presence at CHB.
Whilst we weren’t playing for any premiership points it was pleasing to retain the Wilkinson-Strike Cup and more pleasing to see two club legends present the cup to Club Captain Lachy Barnes and President Terry McEvoy. 1996 Premiership Captain Dave Phelan and 7 time Senior B&F winner Marchie Tarulli presented the cup and it was great to see them back around the club.
We play Seville this Saturday in our last practice match at home. The real stuff starts next week when we take on Mt Lilydale in the Seniors. Despite the relative geographic proximity of the two clubs this is the first time in our club history we are playing the Rams. The U19s start at 9:20am against Hampton Rovers. In the rooms after the game we have Matt Darvidis providing musical entertainment and the bar and social rooms will be open until late. All supporters and members are invited to come along and cheer on the boys and then share a laugh and drink in the rooms. We are having a huge emphasis this season on bringing back past players, partners, supporters and officials to support the club and be a part of what is going to be a very exciting few years.