An extremely hot weekend in Melbourne. Some teams struggled with it, while others flourished in the hot weather of 35-degrees Celsius. Most games were completed on Saturday and just 2 on Sunday. Five games in total in Melton. I attended the Under 19’s and Division 1 games on Sunday.
An early morning kickoff for the Under 19’s where the Croydon Rangers travelled from the East, all the way to Melton to face the Melbourne Uni Royals. The Rangers had a healthy-looking sideline, with enough to play one way. The Royals unfortunately had 13 players. It was already looking daunting for them, especially in the heat.
The Rangers took the early lead when the Nilsson’s connected in the endzone. David to Joseph with the impressive catch. The Royals managed to turn the ball over with an Interception to #2 Dan Cotter of the Rangers. Croydon couldn’t do much with it though. An impressive 50yd run by WR #24 Matue of the undermanned Royals, as they responded with a TD of their own. The failed 2-point conversion saw the scores 8-6 in favour of the Rangers.
Croydon were next to strike. David Nilsson connected on a long bomb to RB #7 Frances Lian, who was out of bounds inside the 5yd line. Next RB #16 Dylan Hellier crossed the goal line for the score. The score was now 14-6 in the 2nd quarter and the Rangers were looking to add more points. The Refs encouraged the boys to drink water at every opportunity they could. The Heat was definitely going to play some major part in the end result, but not how we expected it.
The Royals were able to respond with a 30yd pass from QB #11 to WR #84 Cooper Maher. The Royals only trailed by 2 now. The Royals Defense came to the party late in the 2nd as DB #37 intercepted a pass from David Nilsson and returned it within scoring distance. With just 31 seconds left in the half, the Royals launched a pass to Matue in the endzone which drew a flag for Pass Interference on the Rangers, putting the Royals at the 7yd line. RB #20 did the hard work and punched it in for the TD. The Rangers were shell shocked and trailed by 4 at the half.
It wasn’t getting any cooler and the Royals players were starting to cramp up and get injuries. David Nilsson threw another pick, even after the onside kick recovery, this time to #23 of the Royals. The Royals couldn’t do anything with that possession but were able to force David Nilsson to fumble at mid field and it was recovered by #15 of the Royals. QB #11 launched a bomb to Maher, who just stepped out of bounds at about the 20 on his way to score. Great pick up by the referee Bliss Love. A top catch by #37 and then a pass into the flat to Matue, put the Royals up by 10 points. You could actually see how exhausted the Royals players were with their efforts to celebrate the TD.
With about 3 minutes left in the 3rd, and cramps and exhaustion starting to set in for the Royals. Both coaches agreed to call it a game and split the points. If the weather wasn’t so hot, the Royals may have held onto that lead, but we will never know. Player safety is number 1.
Final Score – Melbourne Uni Royals 24 Croydon Rangers 14*
The Royals head out to Endeavour Hills to take on the Predators, while the Rangers need to travel even further to Geelong, to take on the Buccaneers. Both games are on Saturday.
A break 3 hour between the end of the under 19’s and the start of the Men’s Division 1 didn’t see any change to the temperature. In fact, it felt like it went up a degree or 2. The only positive was that there was a strong breeze starting to develop. Despite this, both teams were out there getting warmed up. The Defending Champion Western Crusaders V first up winners the Croydon Rangers.
Matthew Krul was making his first start at QB for the Crusaders and admits he was really nervous, as it was his first game as the new starter. His safety net was knowing the Offensive Line was one of the best in GV, and they had the Defensive line to thank for that. Krul had even admitted that his own D Line scares him but makes him a better QB. The nerves showed early and neither side could get the ball moving.
On the opposition sideline (Croydon) you had to double take. Was that Bayside Raven/Australian/Istanbul QB Jared Stegman in dark green???? yes, yes it was. He was a mid-week call up due to starting QB Yardley being out with a broken arm, and next in line Joshua Long unavailable for a few weeks. This suddenly made the game a bit of a shootout with both QB’s vying for the Outback starting QB role (unless Stegman isn’t playing). I still gave the Crusaders the edge here and rightfully so. They hadn’t lost, they had gained, with interstate players joining their sideline.
The Crusaders were the first to score with a 45yd pass from Krul to RB #6 Rohail Akhtar. He somehow slipped passed the DB’s and was wide open. The 2-point conversion was successful. The Crusaders had started where they had left off in 2019.
The lack of preparation showed for Stegman, as he threw one of many interceptions in the game. The Crusaders just had too many weapons on Offence for the Rangers to handle. The next score was after a drive down field and a 10yd scoring run by RB #2. The Crusaders were beginning to look ominous now up 14-0.
Early in the 2nd quarter, Krul through his first nervous Interception to DB #2 Austin of the Rangers. Unfortunately for Stegman and the Rangers, they couldn’t make them pay on the scoreboard. Kicking it away to the 2 yd line. With The Cru deep in their own territory, they tried to run it out unsuccessfully, until Krul ran what looked like a planned play, which saw him as the ball carrier. Despite being tackled in the backfield he maintained his balance and ran hard for a first down and a gain of about 20yds. That’s as far as they got though. Both teams couldn’t do anything on their next possession.
Stegman started to find form and found a connection with WR #8 Christian Toy for a nice gain of about 30 after a juggling catch. He then connected with WR #85 James Fountain for another 30yd gain. A third completion after a few plays that went nowhere, saw a 22yd strike to TE #87 Anthony De Benedictis and the Rangers were on the board but trailed 14-6.
One last bomb from Krul to #15 Dennis Battistella Jr almost saw a miraculous score, but he was stopped agonisingly close at the 15yd line. Half time came and the wind had picked up and cooled things down. Even taking the opportunity to try and take away the Crusaders tent.
The Rangers couldn’t get anything going from here on in. The occasional successful screen pass but Stegman struggled to find a connection with anyone other than Benedictis and Toy. Stegman managed to throw 4 more interceptions in this one (2 to FS #31 Mark Padula) while the fleet footed Tyson Garnham (60+ score) and Akhtar helped the Cru make some big gains. The running game for the Crusaders was far superior with everyone getting in on the act. With the Crusaders up 28 to 6 we saw a number of rookies enter the fray, and one last TD to #22.
Final Score – Crusaders 34 Defeated Rangers 6
The Rangers look to get back on the winner’s menu when they travel to Parkville on Sunday, to take on the Melbourne Uni Royals. While the Crusaders travel across town to Endeavour Hills to take on the Predators on Saturday.
Under 16’s – Rangers 14 Defeated by Crusaders 26
A first up Victory for HC Will Pipe. All but 2 players were rookies to the game.
Under 16’s – Buccaneers 28 Defeated Predators 22
Buccaneers overcame a slow start to outlast the Predators, I put the slow start down to travel distance.
Under 19’s – Buccaneers 28 Defeated Predators 6
According to coach Calloway, the Predators struggled to block the defense.
Division 2 – Wolves 25 Defeated by Raiders 29
A seesawing affair with the lead changing a number of times. Despite having more numbers than the Raiders, the experience of that team got them over the line. Even saw HC Jenkins suit up for the first victory.
Division 1 – Buccaneers 24 Defeated Royals 4 (Forfeit at half time – no team sheet)
Daniel Tinitali had another huge run and score. Derrick Henry esque.
Division 1 – Predators 38 Defeated Warriors 13
The tide has finally turned in the South Eastern Suburbs. The Predators are the new king. It’s only taken 12 years.
You can watch all the Highlights from the Crusaders and Rangers, as well as the under 19’s Royals V Rangers on GV vision below.
To watch the LIVESTREAMS in FULL.
Under 16’s https://fb.watch/aL1p5stPNi/ Crusaders V Rangers
DIV 2 https://fb.watch/aL1ro47jRq/ Wolves V Raiders
DIV 1 https://fb.watch/aL1tibKKlU/ Buccaneers V Royals