The under 16 squad finished the home and away season with a 3-4 record and finished 5th on the Torrens University Cup ladder, unfortunately just missing the finals. It came down to the result of the final game against Central Districts as to who would progress to the finals the following week with the dogs coming out as the winners.
It was a long season for the squad who for many, were experiencing a full and proper pre-season program for the first time. To their credit, a lot of the lads began their season preparation by attending the non-compulsory ‘kick and catch’ sessions in the first 3 weeks of November before commencing formal pre-season training on Monday 28 November 2016 and training 3 times a week.
Under the guidance of coach Scott Irrgang and his assistants, David Ising, Ben Mesisca and Chris O’Connor, as well as Robbie Neill prior to taking up his new position with the SANFL, the squad (58 players) went about learning senior coach Jarrod Cotton’s new game plan, structures and terminology. The group embraced Norwood’s new way of playing and went about their learning with great enthusiasm and dedication.
The season commenced with 4 trial games, the first being an internal on Sunday 26 February 2017 and then over the following 3 weeks against Sturt, South Adelaide and Central Districts.
The first game of the home and away season (Round 1) was on Sunday 26 March 2017 at Coopers Stadium against Sturt. The tackling pressure was good as was our ball movement for most parts of the game with the players hitting up their targets and changing lanes well to generate some run. Unfortunately fumbles hurt us and there were too many forward handballs but the intent from the team was excellent. Unfortunately, Sturt took the chocolates that day in a close one, winning the game by 14 points.
Final score Norwood 11.5.71 defeated by Sturt 12.13.85.
Round 2 saw us head to Maughan Thiem Hyundai oval (Woodville oval) to take on the Eagles. It was good to see our desire and intent to play fast but it got a bit erratic. Once we slowed the movement just slightly enough to control our kicks and hit our targets our game play improved dramatically. Unfortunately we gave the Eagles a 4 goal head start in the first quarter and went into half time 37 points down. Our 2nd half fight back and particularly our last quarter effort was excellent but the 1st half cost us and we ended up losing another close one, going down by 16 points.
Final score Norwood 10.8.68 defeated by Eagles 12.12.84.
Round 3 saw us with another away game, travelling to Prospect oval to take on North Adelaide. The lads were keen to make amends for the first 2 games and didn’t disappoint. I asked for more use of handball this week to get some overlap run happening from defence. As a result our handballs increased from 98 to 113 this game and we looked laterally to use the free which made it a lot easier to move the ball quickly out of defence. We also had 107 effective kicks this week compared with 91 last game and reduced the opposition’s effective kicks to 71 compared with 103 last week. Although a different opposition, it highlighted our improvement in our ball use – moving it fast, hitting our targets and our defensive pressure.
Final score Norwood 14.11.95 defeated North Adelaide 9.8.62.
Round 4 was only 4 days after our last game and was another away game for us. We made the trip down to the Bay to take on Glenelg on Wednesday afternoon at 5pm. Our tackling pressure was good again and our ball movement excellent in parts, however we gave the opposition another head start, going into half time 41 points down. To our lads credit they never gave up and played out the game well, winning both the last 2 quarters but it was our start that hurt us, eventually losing to Glenelg by 35 points.
Final score Norwood 11.1.67 defeated by Glenelg 15.12.102.
Round 5 it was good to be back at Coopers Stadium after several away games in a row. We took on West Adelaide and our use of handball was very pleasing and really stimulated some run and carry enabling us to play the way we wanted (fast play). Our ball movement was generally very good with some excellent goals scored through nice changing of lanes. We had 43 inside 50’s for 30 scoring shots, scoring at 70% every time we went I50 resulting in us winning the game by 13 points.
Final score Norwood 13.17.95 defeated West Adelaide 12.10.82.
Round 6 we were away again and made the trip down to Noarlunga to play South Adelaide at Hickinbotham Oval. This would be our last game of the season that all of our college students (36 out of the 58) would be available. We used the ball well, got some good run out of defence and used our free players. We looked to run and carry more, running in waves which was pleasing and our use of handball was again very good allowing us to change lanes well. As a result we were more efficient with the ball – our kicking (effective kicks) was at 68% efficiency – better than last week (10% better) and our handball (effective handballs) was 74%. It was a close game all the way through but we ended up winning by 5 points in a very tense last couple of minutes.
Final score Norwood 14.7.91 defeated South Adelaide 13.8.86.
Round 7 unfortunately ended up being our final game of the season. The college players weren’t available and there were 14 changes to our side. We played Central Districts at Coopers Stadium who were generally unaffected by any college impacts. Our lads tried hard and showed some really good intent to win the ball. We played well in patches but not consistently enough to really challenge the dogs. Centrals ended up winning by 43 points and ventured into the first week of finals the following week.
Final score Norwood 9.6.60 defeated by Central Districts 16.7.103.
It was a disappointing way to end the season not playing finals, but overall a terrific learning program for all of the players in the squad. The U16 program was a great opportunity to see our emerging talent at the club and gave us a better understanding of the possible roles the players may be able to fill over the next few years as they grow and mature as elite level footballers.
Congratulations to the entire squad and particularly to 4 members who were selected for the State U16 squad – Dylan Stephens (our captain this year), Mitchell Carroll (our vice-captain this year), Cameron Taheny and Thomas Tacono.
Well done to all players and coaches.
NFC Under 16 Head Coach / Under 18 Assistant Coach