Norwood Football Club has finally notched its first win for season 2017 with a much-needed and comprehensive 57 point thrashing of close neighbours North Ringwood at Mullum Reserve on Saturday.  After three narrow losses which may have clouded the mind and dented the confidence, the team displayed a welcome instinctiveness and urgency with their play, right from the very first bounce.  Aided by an edge in the ruck contests, we were able to get first hands on the ball consistently and adopted a ‘quick kick’ philosophy, getting the ball out of the congestion and into open space.  Whether by design or circumstance (it was after all a classic wet-weather day), we were playing direct footy, and Rej would be the major beneficiary in the first quarter.  He opened the scoring with a clever snap after the ball was delivered deep into the forward line.  We pressed ‘REPLAY’ on this tactic twice more inside the first 15 minutes, Rej notching a 2nd and then a 3rd, the latter after some very impressive fancy footsteps deep in the pocket. The boys were up and about.  20 minutes in some more up-beat footy saw a chain of handpassess end up with Trent Shinners for a gimme goal, then Rej marked 30m out and slotted his 4th for the quarter.  We were well on top in the centre clearances and this was enabling us to play pro-active rather than reactive footy, and as such had winners on every line.  Late in the quarter Blair Hudson swooped on a loose ball and snapped round the corner to register our 6th goal and cap off our best quarter of footy for the year, leading at 1/4T by 24 points, 6.1 – 2.1

Coach Dennis Knight was understandably happy, urging his players to maintain the rage.  His key instruction and only gripe was to make sure we got back on the mark as we had kicked into the man on the mark at least 6 times in our attempts to move the ball on quickly.  But the vibe in the huddle was high.  The group was bubbling, it was great to see.

The 2nd quarter saw North Ringwood show some expected resolve, making the contest a bit tougher for us, and as such there were many more repeat stoppages. But happily, our game plan had not changed.  We continued with the quick clearing kick, backing our players up the line to react first and win the contest one-on one. Never was this more evident than in one play down the members wing when a quick kick skidded forward for valuable yards and was grabbed expertly by Leroy one-handed leading hard up at the ball.  He dished sideways to Corey Quinlivan, sprinting hard towards goal.  He straightened and let fly with a perfect drop punt from 35m which was never going anywhere but through the middle.  Leroy would slot two of his own for the quarter, one from an excellent conversion from a tight angle and the other from a free kick in the marking contest, aided by the opposing fullback mouthing off about the decision, earning him a 25m penalty and a shot for Leroy from the goal-line.  Trent Shinners, repeatedly splitting the packs all day with strong leads and brutal attack on the ball, showed another side to his game with a classy front-and-centre, smoothly curling the ball around his body with a great snap from 35m.  Right near siren time Ben Trend marked cleverly 45m from goal and made no mistake as we went to HT with a healthy 11 goals to our name and a seemingly match-winning 38 point lead: 11.3 – 5.1.

The start of the 3rd quarter was the only period for the day when we lowered our colours at the stoppage.  For 15minutes North Ringwood held sway and they were rewarded with a couple of goals, which would have been more if not for the excellent defensive play of seasoned stars Hill Aver and Dickson, well supported by Gibbo Newman and Grieve.  The defensive group held up well under pressure during this time and slowly we were able to regain some control, quelling North Ringwoods charge.  Rej, who had been quiet after his blistering first quarter, outsmarted his man one-on one deep in the forward line, marked, played on a goalled for his 5th and a real steadier for the side. Late on, we won another clearance and surged forward, a quick handball releasing Josh Buceto who finished calmly from 25m.  When the 3/4T siren rang we had actually won the quarter – narrowly, with the scores reading 13.6 – 7.2.

With a 40 point lead the game seemed beyond North Ringwood, but to their credit they did not give up in the last quarter, but the day belonged to the home side.  Ben Trend opened the scoring in the last quarter with a clever snap, he would add another during the quarter to finish with a very handy 3 goals.  Leroy pounced on a loose ball, tapped to himself, broke a tackle and slotted through a quality goal, his 3rd, and he would add another from a clever mark to finish with 4 for the day.  But the day belonged to Rej, who closed the scoring with a mark at 40m, the low drop punt sneaking inside the right post for his 6th goal in a great individual performance.

Final Scores: Norwood 18.7.115(Rej 6, Leroy 4, Trend 3, Shinners 2 Hudson Quinlivan Buceto 1) defeated North Ringwood 9.4.58

As always in winning games there were many good players on the day.  Rej with his 4 1st quarter goals set the match up for us, finishing with 6 majors in a BOG display. Skave continued his good form with another ‘boots and all’ performance, Writter played his best game for the year, in and under everything and probably earning a decent headache that night after copping a series of whacks for his trouble.  Matt Aver continues to amaze with his ability to mark opposition kicks in defence, there cannot be another player in the comp who does this as regularly, – except maybe for skipper Stuey Hill ;), Gouldy was back to his best while goalkickers Trend and Leroy rounded out the best players in a great team performance.

So the season has finally been kick-started, players and supporters alike could probably EAT footballs right now, but annoyingly, we have another hiatus to face next weekend with the inter-league game taking place.  We have to hope the momentum of this win, coupled with wins to the development and colts side – earning us our first and much needed Wooders Day for the weekend, can be maintained for our next match, a home game against Montrose on May 20th.

Go Wooders