Clear skies and a chilling wind greeted the boys for the top of the table clash first vs. second at McKinnon Reserve on Sunday. Captains for the day were Oscar Kelk & Refe Sarant who lead a very focused team of Rovers extremely well.
The school holidays were upon us and we were had 6 players missing from our regular line up. One of the great things about our club is how everyone digs in to assist wherever possible and this week was no exception with the Under 10 white team supplying Harry Block, Jack Weavers, Max Bogue & Mitch Graham. The boys not only ensured we could field a team but they all played great games like they had been in the side for weeks.
The game was quite physical in the first quarter and the team took a little while to work out how to combat the many large bodies of St Pauls. From the halfway mark our second and third efforts were starting to provide opportunities. The contests were amazing with our boys slowly gaining the upper hand. In fact the contests were so good our boundary umpire was stuck watching the game on the half forward flank and after a great passage of play resulting in a ball going out in the forward pocket, James was so impressed he was stuck to the ground at Half Forward nodding with approval. With some gentle encouragement he was in the pocket and returning the ball to the playing field. THANKS JAMES !! Our mid-field of Joe, Harry L, Fletch Josh C were AWESOME today and Harry “The General” Gibbins was not letting anything get past halfway. Darcy & Tom had a great first quarter getting the ball to the hotspot but it was the relentless effort of Dan “pack buster” Beaven who scored our first and only goal of the first quarter.
The Rovers teamwork went up another notch in the second quarter with use of the wind all players were moving the ball very quickly to the forward line. Angus fought hard and scored his first of 4 for the day. Harry Gibbins provided some sensational defensive highlights none better than a huge running tackle where St Pauls had us out numbered if they got past him. Liam Fagan stepped up another gear in the second and showed his fabulous skills moving the ball through heavy traffic beautifully deep into the forward line providing continual chances for the team. Tom had a great game and picked up a hot ball at centre half forward delivering a great pass to Josh “I can’t believe I’m getting tagged in U11’s” Cameron resulting in a silky goal. Harry Lewis was leading from the front in the determination stakes with some brilliant competitive feats, an example when hard on the boundary Harry make a momentum stopping tackle, knocked the ball clear and when an opposition player dared to pick it up and try a clearing kick Harry got to his feet & smothered it causing a throw in and seeing the ball go back into our forward line.
The Rovers had the majority of the play in the first half however the door was still open with St Pauls only 24 points away with a half to play. Our defenders were brilliant all day and the pressure was on in the third as McKinnon made several attacks. Oscar was keen to ensure he was going to sing the song on his game as captain attacking the ball and clearing it well through the quarter. Nick White continues to be more than impressive as a key defender, on numerous occasions Nick positioned himself deep in defence for the second kick into the opposition hot spot demonstrating his significant skill to read the game while being very selfless. For much of the quarter the ball was in congestion the game plan paid off with the ball being sent to the top of the square allowing Angus to score two well fought out majors.
The Boys worked very hard all day, McKinnon were the toughest physical competitors we have faced this year and there was no way the team were going to let them hit the scoreboard. Josh and Fletch had received plenty of heavy attention all day yet they continued to drive the ball deep into our forward line. Anastasi did a great job up forward continually keeping the ball moving into dangerous spots, Angus was rewarded with a great goal from a tough pick up in the square and Zain has proven to be a great goal score kicking two goals of his own in the last.
Our opposition went close to crossing the line on Sunday, I was disappointed with some of the tactics they employed at junior level. What was sensational was the positive focus and sportsmanship our Rovers showed for four quarters. Every week I am excited by the way the team improves, it is clear the boys knew the value of our result beyond the score.
Hampton Rovers 8.19 (67) def. St Pauls McKinnon 0.0 (0)
Well done Rovers you deserved to blow the roof off the change rooms with the song as you did!
Enjoy a well-earned break everyone!