Under 9 Season Review - by Melanie Blackman, U9 Manager
 
The players have had a lot of new skills to learn this year; tackling, line-outs, scrums and conversions are introduced at this level. Subsequently securing the ball at the break-down became a vital part of the game. All players improved enormously during the season and their enthusiasm for the game didn't waiver. A much wider field gave those with legs room to move and we saw some great runs down the paddock and some fantastic tries scored. We had up to 20 players each week and all were encouraged to participate and contribute to the team equally. As manager, I was not always involved in the Tuesday and Thursday training sessions, but whenever I did participate, everyone was keen to learn. The players (mostly) listened well and their fitness improved when they didn't!

The first game of the season was so exciting; I think it was the first time many of the parents had seen their children tackle in a game of rugby and we were very vocal, it was such an enjoyable game. I think the U9 support crew bonded instantly and every week made our presence known, cheering on the team and providing encouragement to all.

Gareth Blackman worked hard all year at securing the ball at the break down. Gareth grasped the concepts involved quickly and worked well with his team mates in and around the ruck. Gareth also played some good running rugby, and who can forget that swan dive for a try in the corner early in the season?

Connor Blyton developed his kicking skills through the year, and successfully added conversion points when we scored with increasing consistency. Always in and around the action, Connor showed leadership skills during the year, confidently communicating with his team mates at the set pieces.

Jasch Davis provided a very reliable presence whenever he was involved in the game. Jasch was involved in the scrum and line outs and improved on all of his skills this year.

Houston (Huey) Duncan was one of our very reliable tacklers. Huey was also very good at taking on the opposition, often running straight into a hoard of opposition players and staying on his feet before offloading to his team mates.
 
Alex Eadie worked very hard on his skills with the ball. Quick on his feet, by the end of the season, Alex was using his pace to go forwards and straight with good effect. It was often Alex who secured the loose ball for Palmy.

Clayton Fanti was a powerhouse up front, using his natural ability to go forward with the ball, often attracting the entire opposition team to try and defend against him.  Clayton worked hard at securing the ball and ensuring that all the hard work resulted in retained possession.

Tynan Hobbs tackled hard and was a great contributor to the team, predominately in the first half of the season.  We hope to see you back next year Tynan.

Aaron McFarlane demonstrated great patience with his team mates this year.  Able to see the gaps, Aaron was more often than not within striking distance of the try line, waiting to pounce on the opportunity.  When rewarded with the ball, Aaron always had a good run, and has great passing and catching skills.

Oliver Muller outwitted the opposition (and occasionally his own team) with his legendary step.  Always enthusiastic and involved in the play, Ollie often came away with the ball from the break down and always made ground.  With his speed and fearlessness, Ollie made some amazing try-saving tackles along the sideline this year.

Owen Petterson contributed enthusiastically to the team, showing some good passing skills as the season progressed. Owen was often up front helping out his mates when the game tied up in a mass tackle.
 
Rydan Richards was I think, almost without exception, at every training session and every game.  As a result Rydan, already a gifted player, improved to be one of the stand-outs in the team, consistently scoring tries, including 2 in the final game of the season.  Rydan's maturity and love for the game was evident every week and a pleasure to see.

Jamieson Rudd, nicknamed ‘Speedy' (which seems to have stuck) was more than just quick.  A good passer of the ball, Jamieson also ran hard and made ground with the ball in hand.  Often steaming down the sideline, and often in pursuit of an opposition player, Jamieson's defensive game improved consistently during the year.

Riley Say is a quick player who scored some exciting tries this season. Doing really well when he is able to get some space, Riley is able to sneak through tackles and make good ground with the ball in hand.

Hayden Schatz has loads of natural ability and is always looking for the try line.  Hayden scored all three tries in our win against University Pirates in Round 12.  Hayden was very consistent during the year, often scoring a try just when the Palmy heads were starting to drop, providing much needed confidence and encouragement to the team.

Maloi Terupo really enjoyed the contact at the break down this year.  Always involved, and always securing the ball, Maloi used his natural ability to really develop his skills at cleaning out, often catching the opposing players by surprise with his strength.  Maloi led from the front and made a lot of ground when he had the ball in hand.
 
Reuben Smith improved in all aspects of the game this year, and is developing all-round skills, including passing and tackling.  A kind-hearted, team player, Reuben is always happy to be with his mates.

Jorja Craigie gained in confidence as the season went on.  An enthusiastic team player, Jorja was content to be on the field, contributing to all aspects of the game. Jorja ran straight with the ball and passed well all season.
 
Tru Boynton contributed to the team in the first half of the season.  Tru worked hard on his tackling skills and has a huge amount of resilience.  We hope to see you back next year Tru.

Joe Gill has outstanding tackling skills and was often involved in saving tries by pushing the opposing team players into touch.  Also talented in passing, catching and running with the ball, Joe is developing into a well-rounded player with leadership skills as well.

Connor O'Hearn quickly became an integral part of the team this year.  Great at tackling and a strong runner with the ball in hand, Connor enjoyed his rugby season.  Connor worked hard at learning the rules of the game and on developing his skills to complement his natural ability.

Parents, thank you, your children are wonderful and it is a pleasure to interact with them each week.  The U9s are true team players, happy to take their turn on the side so their friends can play.  I will miss their cries of ‘can I go on now?' and ‘who do I go on for?'  We had a well-oiled substitution machine going by the end of the year, with everyone trained up in that aspect of the game too.

Coach Jordon Simshauser was assisted by Shaun Gill, Garry O'Hearn, Ben Blyton, Stan Terupo and many of the senior players who pitched in for tackling practice.  Thank you all very much for ensuring that our enthusiastic players has an equally enthusiastic coach at each and every training session and game.

And finally, thank you to my friend and co-manager, Celene, who made every Friday night run smoothly.  Thank you for bringing the water bottles, washing the uniforms, buying the treats for the players, scoring and always for your smile.

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