The Monash Warriors headed down to Footscray on Sunday to tackle the Western Crusaders in a game that would cement the overall #1 seed for playoffs with a win and a Norther Raiders loss.
The Western Crusaders were a team struggling to find wins this season but still a determined team willing to finish the season on a high note. They had lost two of their games this season by less than a score and had those have gone the other way, they would have been in contention for the #4 seed.
The day did not start of well for the Warriors as several players found themselves running late and the team captain Pradeep Rethnam had forgotten his game pants at home. Game MVP then went to Senior John Le who had brought some pants to the game straight from training at Monash University in Clayton.
The Warriors were determined to fix their slow starts from previous games however found themselves concerned after all the issues prior to the game beginning. Coach Callum Marini tried to fire up his team prior to kick off and the Offense listened.
The Warriors Offense took to the field and dominated the Crusaders early however QB Nick Whitehead threw his first interception since Week 3 and had the Crusaders fired up defensively and then caused problems for the Warriors when the Offense took the field.
Determined to cause an upset the Crusaders scored on both their first two drives of the game coming out in formations that caused headaches for the Warriors. Defensively the Warriors had not seen these formations meaning they had not prepared for it and had no experience on how to counter it. It wasn’t until coaches Marini and Sires made changes to formations and assignments that they were able to control the game.
Special teams has played a pivotal role this season with the Warriors and their standout returner Benjamin McGaw was back at his best torching the Crusaders for 3 return touchdowns on the day, two coming from Kick offs and the third from a Punt. The speed and ability to make people miss has been exciting to watch but it is the teamwork of the 10 players around him on the field making key blocks which allows McGaw to find those gaps to turn into scores.
Running Backs Anton Maksoutov and Brian Huynh had big days combining for over 150 yards rushing and a touchdown each whilst Tight End Vish Sivakumar continued to impress with a touchdown of his own on an Out route.
Joining the scoring party were Jono Keusgen and Dmitri Maksoutov who both scored defensively on interception returned touchdowns. That sees the Warriors Defense & Special Teams combining for 5 touchdowns on the game and the Warriors ended up easily accounting for the Crusaders running out 70-14 winners.
Crunch award went to Josh Deakin who delivered a massive hit from FB on a goal line 2pt conversion.
Next week sees the season finale where the Warriors will travel to Reservoir on Sunday 17th April and face an improving Northern Raiders team that have cemented a playoff spot for the first time in their young Junior history.
The Warriors can’t afford to slip as form at this time of the year is crucial. Whilst they have cemented top spot after the Northern Raiders lost to the Melbourne Uni Lions in the lead up game in Footscray, the Warriors still need to be on top of the game if they wish to complete the perfect season.
The Warriors will face either the Packenham Silverbacks or Croydon Rangers who are both fighting for 4th position and hope to defeat them to face either the Northern Raiders or Melbourne Uni Lions who will face off again in the semi finals.
Get down to Reservoir and support the Warriors in their quest for the perfect season.