The first game of a new season is always a special time for a footy club; players excited to kick the footy, coaches nervous of their team’s preparedness, parents hopeful for a good experience for their kids. So with freshly cut grass and sunshine peeking through the clouds, the Hampton Rovers U12 D5 team took to the field, ready to take-on the East Brighton Vampires for our first game.
Before the game, the coaching staff handed-out jumpers to each member of the team, congratulating them all on being a part of the Rovers for 2017. We welcomed 8 new players to our team this year: Eddie L, Louie L, Ben F, Oli A, Heath D, Stanley H, Max R and Oscar G. All the boys acquitted themselves well in training during the pre-season, so we were proud to see them run-out in the Rovers’ colours. All the boys were encouraged to try their best, be good sports to their opponents and the umpire, and most importantly go have fun playing footy with their team mates.
The captain for the day was Alex P, and from the opening bounce he asserted his authority on the game with strong tap-outs and work around the ground. With quick and decisive ball movement, the Rovers pushed forward, resulting in a quality goal by Jace D. Throughout the quarter, the mids worked together, with Billy M and Oli A getting plenty of touches and sending the ball forward. Ben F was a focus on the forward line, and Stanley H was active in providing a target for each forward movement. The Vampires did not lie down, as they move the ball forward into their forward line and pressured our backline, but the Rovers stood tall and repelled their advances.
In the second quarter, the Vampires increased their intensity on the ball, making it a tighter contest. There were no easy possessions, with both teams tackling and pressuring hard. Each of the Rovers played the ball and kept their composure, with plenty of support from their team mates. The backline was again under pressure, but Christian B and Louie L were outstanding in their commitment to stopping the Vampires, and Jake M demonstrated his shut-down tackling prowess. Heath D played a critical sweeper role across half-back, redirecting play a number of times to the advantage of the Rovers. At the half, both teams had demonstrated good skills and willingness to get the ball, and had been rewarded with goals for each team.
The effort and intensity on both sides continued in the third quarter, with both teams pressuring the opposition backline. Under extreme duress, Chevi O performed a textbook smoother that stopped a near-certain goal. As the quarter wore-on, the Rovers’ began to assert their authority, with kicks to space and run-ons, exemplified by a kick on the run by the ever-evasive Josh E to Alex P who gathered at full-speed and kicked forward to Lachie K, who marked and cooly slotted a long-range goal. The forward pressure by the Rovers’ was also considerable, with the majority of the quarter being spent in our forward half. Of special note was Zac B whose tackling was exemplary and Max R who competed strongly in the air against numerous opponents.
With the game still within reach for the Vampires in the fourth quarter, they challenged the Rovers once again with pressure and tackling. The Rovers responded with good skills in moving the ball forward, with Jack C and Brodie J controlling the centre line, and Christian S and Lucas C busy up forward. The Rovers demonstrated their fitness through a number of chain handballs and kicks, from half-back to full-forward, leading their Vampires to the ball across the ground. A kick into space in the Rovers’ forward line was picked-up by Jack G who sped-off, took a bounce and kicked truly, to the delight of the team and the crowd. In the final moments of the game, with the Vampires surging again, the backline held strong with Eddie L and Ben D performing solo tackles that stopped another Vampire goal opportunity.
At the end of the game, the Rovers were deserving victors. In the change rooms, the Rovers’ song was sung with gusto by all the players, arm-in-arm, smiles all-round. To begin the season with a win is always enjoyable, but more importantly, every one of the boys tried their best, respected those competing and umpiring, and enjoyed themselves playing the game we all love. A great start to a promising season.
Back to reality, this Wednesday’s training starts at 5:30pm sharp, so be there at 5:20 to stretch and warm-up.
Coaches Mike & David