Hampton Rovers (33) defeated South Melbourne Districts (28)
It’s pretty hard to coach footy, when you can’t see the other side of the ground.
8.30am Sunday morning at Boss James, and there was a thick veil of fog blanketing the ground. It was quite spectacular, but in the first quarter, it made it almost impossible to see who was playing if the ball was on the Bluff Road wing. These sort of conditions usually present 22 boys that would much rather be still in bed. However there was something different in the air this day. Even in the rooms before the game, there was an energy amongst the boys that was exciting to see. They were up and about.
Having completed my Level 1 Coaches Course the previous day, I was buzzing with new ideas and a different approach. If there was one key theme I took from the day at the Eastern Ranges it was this. Keep it simple. Instead of my pre game white board covered in a scrawl of 25 messages, I had 3 succinct points. 1/ Be first to the ball. 2/ Tackle. Tackle. Tackle and 3/ Shepherd. That was it. The day’s 3 keys to possession.
I knew this game would present another Div 1 challenge, but what I saw unfold in the face of it was extraordinary. Our boys came out firing. From the first bounce to the last they all contributed to 4 solid quarters of the best footy we’d seen this year. It was a gallant display of teamwork, courage and sheer desperation. The tackling was relentless all day, and we saw countless uses of effective shepherding to create space for their team mates. As a result we witnessed some beautiful strings of play and fluid ball movement from one end of the ground to the other. Our defence was strong, but also our forward pressure was positive, with 2 well earned goals from Jordan Rao. The game went all the way down to the wire. The final 5 minutes was as intense as it gets. The Rovers fought with everything they had, and held on to win by 5 points.
Christian Beare and Dion Gavnoudias captained the team. Award winners this week for outstanding efforts were Jordan Rao, Marco French-Medic, Harry Tuffley, Ollie Sutherland and Taj Hotton.
Sunday’s game certainly showed us what we’re capable of, and where we are at. The team’s improvement has been amazing. We have come such a long way, and at the same time recognise we have a long way to go. But we’re all excited about the journey ahead.