It was a very cold and foggy start to this match against the East Malvern Knights and our boys were facing a half ground which they clearly dislike. The smaller ground meant that it was always going to be a bit of a struggle for our runners to find space to run and kick into, and we were apparently facing opposition who had never suffered defeat.
In addition to the team goals set in recent weeks, such as the tackling pressure we put on the opposition, this week the boys were sent onto the ground with instructions more about themselves and their own game; to be confident, to believe in themselves, to back themselves and to try new things.
We were lead out by captains Henry O’Keefe and Harry Haines and the difficulty of clearing the ball on the small ground proved to be the case with 5 centre ball ups in quick succession. However, at training during the week the boys were taught how to correctly pick up the ball and handball out to a team mate, and this lesson appeared to quickly turn the game in our favour. All of a sudden our boys were hand balling out from a congested pack to a team mate in some space who would then boot the ball straight up the ground. Awesome.
During the first quarter Josh Bou Diab was getting centre clearances and Lukey Kollmorgen managed to break the deadlock with his run and kick into the forward line, where Zac Saunders managed to sneak the first goal. The game was starting to open up as Tom Strickland passed accurately to Adrian Gonzales who took a nice chest mark and went on to slot another goal.
In the second quarter the team managed to power ahead with our midfield of Massimo Champness, Shae Newey, Lachlan Curtis and Harry Haines regularly pushing the ball forward. Josh Bou Diab took over in the forward line and managed to snag a goal during the quarter.
In the third quarter our backline was under pressure but Josh Kordupel stood up and took control in his best game so far, laying many tackles and he was always found at the bottom of a pack scrapping for the ball and trying to feed it out to a team mate. James Jebb also stood up and snagged a goal after some strong midfield play by Spencer Ries, while Harry Haines was bulldozing his way through the forward line and also kicked another Rovers goal.
In the last term Massimo Champness was thrown into the middle again and he duly rewarded us with some strong tackles and forward thrusts to stop any hope the opposition had. By the final siren the Rovers had once again earned the rights to sing the song. During this game it was great to see the likes of Spencer Ries gaining more and more confidence, Ben Montgomery continuing his consistency to get plenty of the ball, Boston Hughes and James De Nicola increasingly getting into the action and Joe Whelan laying plenty of tackles.
Despite a half ground resulting in a congested game, this game resulted in my proudest coaching day so far – after one specific training lesson on how to correctly pick up the ball and handball out to a team mate, l was amazed at how well our boys applied this on game day with such confidence. Seeing the boys learn and succeed trying new things is massively rewarding for me and the reason l took up coaching. Thanks boys you bunch of superstars!
The boys are now familiar with the club song and it was also great to see them gather into their own full circle to yell it to each other at a volume that would make any AFL club proud (as a bonus to everyone it looks like my singing lessons are no longer required!)
We are already half way through the season, and with our boys gaining more and more confidence each week, l will be making every effort to continue to challenge and test them in different areas of their game in the second half of the year.
Thanks again to all parents who help out each week.
Koje & Kurt