Flying high after a hattrick of wins the Rovers fronted up at the boutique sized Kostka Hall Oval to take on a Brighton Beach team that had struggled to find their rhythm this season.
With an almost full squad at their disposal, Coaches Davis, Tuppen and Moss plotted a fourth victory that would strengthen their claims as top 4 contenders.
Back from injury, Zara Rayner was named captain.
It was business as usual from the first bounce with Ruckwomen Charlotte C swatting the first hit out to Joely H who set off on an early raid. Brighton Beach responded with a counter attack but such was the compact size of the ground that the long boot of Juliet M was able to send the play from the Rovers defensive zone direct to the forward line where full forward Olive T scored a behind. Midfielder Lola D locked the ball up twice in quick succession as play continued and then Nadia S took a mark up front before hedging her bets with a kick toward goal that was initially enroute to Olive T but suddenly took a dog leg left to score 6 points.
Georgia B emulated Charlotte C’s ruck work by winning her own centre clearance before Olive T went oh so close to scoring a goal from an acute angle in the back pocket but instead recorded a 2nd behind.
Matilda B got her first possession and Zara K made a good tackle in the centre of the ground. Sensing she was missing out on the action Nadia S then added a cluster of 3 tackles to a personal tally that would reach 16 by the end of the game.
Meanwhile Lola D set up sharp shooter Olive T to score her first goal of the game and keep the scoreboard ticking over.
On the rare occasions Brighton Beach moved the ball into the Rovers defensive zone Maddie A, Matilda T and Bianca S were there to calmly clean things up and keep the opposition scoreless.
The 2nd quarter was a different story as Brighton Beach enjoyed playing down the slope and with the breeze at their backs.
For the Rovers Charlotte C was immense, constantly repelling the Brighton onslaught and Sienna G was lion hearted in defence along with Zara K. Lola D also toiled away and there was a constant sting in the tackles of Amber M yet, when it was all said and done, Brighton had scored 6 behinds and a goal to reduce the deficit to 2 points heading into half time.
Hampton rallied somewhat in the 3rd term with a brace of behinds from Juliet M and a goal from Lola D extending the narrow lead. Charlotte C and Zara R continued the Rover’s ruck dominance and Joely H and Maddie A proved constant threats every time they got the ball. A brave Zoe H was having a great quarter in midfield before she had to come off with a head injury that would prevent her playing any further part in the game.
Despite being behind heading into the final quarter, the home team would have fancied their chances of an upset with the wind and slope again in their favour. However, in an emphatic passage of play Georgia B marked strongly before kicking to Nadia S who played on and picked out Olive T in front of goal with the latter completing the sweeping movement with the first goal of the game at the northern end of the ground.
Shortly after Brighton hit back with their own goal to signal they weren’t yet ready to submit.
With much of the action now being played in close confines, courtesy of some generous policing of the zones, the Rovers peeled off more handballs in 1 quarter of footy than they had all season and managed to starve Brighton Beach of possession as a result.
When Joely H finally broke into space, she kicked long to Nadia S who again played on from the mark and scored her second goal of the game and finally put the result beyond doubt.
In the sheds after the game Charlotte C took out the POD and TOD awards while Nadia S also doubled up with the most tackles and a team award. The last prize went to Juliet M who had backed up last week’s effort with another stellar performance, though her selection of a Bakers Delight voucher over a Grill’d burger had many onlookers scratching their heads.
And there was still time for a final act of levity, as Assistant Coach Nick Tuppen’s vehicle was impounded in the carpark after the game by the home side.
Looking ahead, the team and their support staff will approach next week’s rematch with East Malvern with renewed optimism and a sense they can compete with any team in the league, particularly with 4 successive home games to round out the regular season.[Writers caveat: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this report but I’m getting old, my eyes are failing and everything seems to happen so quickly nowadays so I apologise in advance for any errors, embellishments or glaring omissions].