The question we were looking to answer today was have we improved as a team since Rd 1 when we were soundly beaten by the Vampires. We highlighted the Vampires strengths in their marking talls, and how they look to control the footy through the corridor space. The importance of accountability (being accountable for an opponent), and application of rover style pressure were the key messages ringing in the boys ears as Kyle Verbunt led the boys onto the Boss at the unforgiving hour of 8.30am.
Our pressure machine in Josh N was sent to midfield for the opening bounce, and laid the first tackle of match with the first 3 seconds of the game. Following that the pregame words meant very little as the first five minutes of the game was then owned by East Brighton. We were lucky not to concede early goals after they missed some easy opportunities, and when Kyle found himself 1 v 4 in their goal square and forced another behind the momentum started to turn. Billy provided some offensive run from the back pocket, and combining with Jenson’s rebound work from half back we finally able to clear the ball from the defensive half. Elliot was leading the charge in winning the contested footy, and with our forwards in Ben S and Ethan looking dangerous we were hopeful of snaring a late goal. The quarter finished without troubling the scorers, but with the opposition 0.3.3 we felt we were in for the contest.
The second quarter began and it seemed we turned the pressure from high to low, and the Vampires began to get some score board ascendancy. Jake T remained focused on the task at hand and took some intercept marks, as were Maxie C and Josh B who both defended stoically as their numbers continued to stream forward. We needed a spark desperately, and it came in the form of Josh D who on cue pushed deep into the forward half from the wing to snare a much needed “sausage roll”. With a minute on the clock remaining until half time, the intent was not concede another goal as the ball became locked in a sequence of stoppages thanks to the heavy work of xxxxx. However in what may go down in history as “Giblingate”, an extra 10 sec on the clock allowed a late mark and after the siren goal that had the rovers going into the break with their heads down.
Signs weren’t good as we conceded another goal early in the 3rd, but the response from Kai was emphatic as he hunted the footy and started to inspire his team mates with his work rate. Ted was at his athletic best with the ruck work, and Arch started to brake away from the congestion despite the close attention. The forwards in Luke were providing moving targets and were winning the footy. Alex managed to drive the ball long, and when Matteo marked a converted via a wobbly punt reminiscent of his dad, the margin of 15 points at 3/4 time seemed within reach.
With Maso sent forward to provide even stronger target and contest, we were unable to capitalise on early opportunities. Oli H was sent to midfield an had immediate impact using the ball with precision setting up several forward entries. When Jacky G gathered the ball cleanly and manoeuvred onto his trusty right foot, you could hear the words of the late Lou Richards “you can put down your glasses…”, but the ball faded to the wrong side of the post as did any hope of a Rovers comeback.
Whilst the scoreboard may have indicated there was minimal improvement from rd 1, we came from the game convinced we have improved, and look forward to the next challenge ahead in East Malvern.
Ash & Sean