The U12 D5 team went with a unchanged line-up to face the St. Kilda Juniors at Elwood. This was another opportunity for the Rovers to see how they stacked-up against competitive team. The position for each player was different to last week, with the intent of giving all players experience in different parts of the ground. But the message was the same – focus on the 3 phases of the game (we’ve got it, they’ve got it, no-one’s got it), work as a team, respect the opposition and umpires, try their best and have fun. The team was ably led by Josh E, who played well last game and trained with intensity during the week. Unfortunately Chevie O and Heath D were late scratches, but we looked forward to seeing them back next week.
At the opening bounce, the opposition showed their intent with quick hands and feet, immediately putting our backline under pressure. Ben D and Jack G stood tall with pressure tackling, while Stanley H bottled-up the ball just outside the opposition goals. Despite the efforts of the Rovers, St. Kilda scored the first goal, and continued to move the ball forward. The Rovers defence was stretched by the flow of the opposition into the forward half, but Billy M’s attack on the football in the back pocket was exemplary, as it would be throughout the game, and Zac B’s perfect positioning in the goal square stopped a certain goal.
By quarter time St. Kilda had built a handy lead, but in the huddle the Rovers remained in good spirits, with plenty of positive talk between the players. The Rovers continued with their effort and intensity in the second quarter, a highlight being Christian S’s multiple possessions in traffic. Max R was everywhere in defense despite being manned-up against bigger opponents, and Brodie J and Jace D provided clearing runs out of the backline. Lachie K worked tirelessly in the ruck and Josh E was busy around the packs. Unfortunately, St. Kilda had answers for our forward entries, so our efforts weren’t rewarded on the scoreboard.
At the half, the boys were implored to man-up with their opposition in order to stem the flow of goals, while still attacking the football. In the third, Oli A won multiple hard-balls under pressure, and Jack C gave support to the backline with quality clearances. Unfortunately Lachie K was hurt during a ruck contest, so Alex P was moved into the centre and performed admirably. Every Rover lifted his effort, despite close attention from his opponent. The ball entered our forward line numerous times, with Christian B a strong presence, with Eddie L and Lucas C roving the packs. Although the Rovers didn’t score, the team slowed the opposition and created chances of their own.
In the last quarter, there were a few positional changes, with the forwards moving to the backline, to give them a bit more of the football. The team continued to work hard, with Ben F demonstrating run-thru power as he cleared the ball, Oscar G pressuring their forwards into mistakes and Louie L showing toughness and skill in the centre. It was the team’s best quarter, with everyone playing the ball and pressuring the opposition. However, St. Kilda continued to move the ball with skill, and was able to outmatch the Rovers with numbers on the ball, resulting in additional goals.
At the final siren, it was a comfortable win for St. Kilda. But although the final score didn’t go Rovers way, every player wearing the Rovers jumper played with maximum effort from siren-to-siren. It is in times of difficulty that true character is exposed, so it was pleasing to see that each player tried their best, didn’t give up, and respected the opposition and the umpire throughout. The coaching staff could not have been more proud of the players with their attitude and effort.
This week’s training will focus on specific drills that will help the team improve our situational awareness in a variety of game circumstances, so make sure you are there at 5:20 for a 5:30 kick-off.
Coaches Mike & David