The girls didn’t spend much time dwelling over our narrow two point loss in our first game. They were keen to make amends in round two. The effort on the training track during the week was first class and the focus was clearly on kicking long and tackling hard.
Round 2 couldn’t come quickly enough and we were forgiven for thinking that we had arrived at the Adelaide Oval rather than Beaumaris Secondary College. The MCC signage should have been a giveaway that we weren’t playing on a standard suburban oval. The changerooms were better than those on offer at Marvel Stadium and the atmosphere in the rooms before the game was full of excitement and expectation. There must be three full time groundsmen employed by the school, as the playing surface was nicer than the fairways at Royal Melbourne Golf Club and zone lines, goal squares and the centre circle were all sprayed to perfection – no zone markers required at Beaumaris! The sun was out and it was a lovely morning. You couldn’t have found anyone without a smile on their face even if someone paid you.
The girls put in a great 15 minute warm up and all were nice and warm and ready to go in preparation for the bounce. Jasmyn and Caitrin were announced as our captains for the day and we didn’t mind losing the toss and being told to kick to the pavilion end of the ground.
Our starting midfielders – Michaela, Tess, Hannah and Jasmyn were instructed to work extra hard to win the ball, tackle hard and give our forwards first use with long kicking. Bianca, Jazzey, Poppy and Lily were bouncing around in the forward line and with Sophie in the last line of defence alongside Tilly, Audrey P and Caitrin we were ready to rumble.
The siren sounded and the girls were away. From the moment Stu bounded the ball into the turf, our mids were right on top. All quarter they worked and tackled strongly, following instruction to a tee and kicking long into the forward line. Jazzey was right onto the dominance our girls were having on the middle and was marking balls at will. She was extremely lively and had the best quarter of her career thus far, converting three goals. BJ was flat out as the goal umpire as the Rovers girls continued to have shots on goal. Our mids had built a wall and each time the ball left our forward line it was bombed straight back in by Jasmyn or Hannah. Michaela and Tess were laying tackles and keeping the pressure right on the Beaumaris girls. Lily, Bianca and Poppy were all getting loads of touches up forward and we went into the huddle at the first break with our defenders all asking if they could change positions urgently.
At the quarter time huddle the girls were commended for sticking to our plan to perfection and most of them looked more excited than receiving an invitation to a party being held at Luna Park. The girls now had tremendous belief that they can play as a team and score lots of goals. They were asked to keep the pressure on the opposition and to keep working hard. Audrey P showed that missing training due to her gymnastics commitment was having no impact as she won the ball out of the middle and kicked long four times in the second quarter. Our other mids in Jazzey, Tilley and Sophie all won their own ball and did much of the same as our forwards were running around like hungry tigers. Hannah showed the rugby bloodlines as she was tackling anything in sight and it was lucky that she didn’t wrap her arms around one of the umps she was going in that hard. She showed her versatility by breaking past two opponents and slotting a goal on the run from 30 metres. Michaela was playing on a girl who is taller then me and was not perturbed as she tackled ferociously. She was unlucky to have her shot on goal called a point when it went through but had clipped the base which holds up the goalpost. Caitrin joined the party by kicking a major and Tess was applying great forward line pressure to keep the ball locked in for us.
The half time siren showed a group of girls with red faces, which highlighted how hard they were working on the lovely autumn morning. All of the girls were commended on their wonderful effort and pressure which was showing no signs of letting up. The girls were asked to keep with our plan but to also work to use teamwork via handball and passes to teammates where possible.
We were well up and wanted to use the second half to work on some other areas of our game. The Beaumaris mids must not have been too thrilled to see Hannah back on the ball as she walked out alongside Caitrin, Sienna and Jessica. Meanwhile Jasmyn was happy to be up forward and was running around and calling for everything with Tess, Tilly and Audrey P looking for the crumbs. Tilly took a very strong mark and gave a perfect pass to Jasmyn and was rewarded later in the quarter as she ran around half the Beaumaris team to slot her first goal of her career – well done Tilly! Audrey P and Tess were working hard and displaying great teamwork. The mids were right on top and once again the ball spent most of the quarter in our forward zone. Jasmyn put the icing on the cake for a massive quarter with a long goal on the run. As we approached three quarter time, I dared to ask our team manager, Nicole, if anyone had a print out to the words of the Rovers song.
The girls jogged in as one to the three quarter time huddle and there was a buzz through the group about how well they were going. They were instructed to stick to the basics and keep up the pressure and focusing on teamwork wherever possible. It was hard to hang onto the magnet board before the last change as everyone scrambled to see if they were playing forward for our last hurrah. Jazzey, Sophie, Sienna and Jessica won the raffle and were thrilled to be handed the forward line wrist bands. Lily sent the ball forward with a massive hit out and we were away in the last quarter. Jessica kept up with her great third quarter as she was laying tackles and winning her own ball at will. Jazzey picked up where she left off in the first quarter and slotted a goal after a free kick and almost made it five for the day when she missed another close chance. I know that the Cripps family are good friends with the Fevola’s so I can only assume that Brendan has been around of late giving goal kicking tips over a snag.
Bianca, Jasmyn, Poppy and Lily continued to win the ball in the middle and the work rate was showing no sign of letting up. Our forwards kept being given great opportunities with the way the ball was coming in. Once again, our defenders were left to stand right on the zone line and cheer on our girls. We continued to pepper the goals until the final siren sounded. It was really pleasing to see that our girls were humble in victory as they shook hands with the Beauy girls and thanked the umpires (thanks again Stu!).
What a game! The song, “let’s see how far we’ve come”, went through my mind as it is amazing to see the improvement in each and every one of the Rovers girls over the past few weeks. The girls follow instruction and stick to the team plan really well. The tackling effort has been sensational since that area was addressed after the practice match and the girls now get two to three of them to every contest. The kicking has improved out of sight and I cannot recall anyone not keeping their feet as they go to the ball. It’s exciting that we have only just played round two and have most of the season still ahead of us.
It was standing room only in the rooms post-match and watching the girls sing their first rendition of the Rovers song was a sight to behold. The girls all had a fantastic time and we came out of the game with no injuries, which was great news. The coaches awards went to Audrey P, Jessica and Caitrin for their efforts on the day, but the award could have gone to any of the girls this week as they all did so well.
Bring on round three and let’s hope like mad that Emma Nicholl can get our return match vs Beaumaris played at their home ground or the girls may never get to play at such a quality venue again!
A big thanks to all of the parent helpers on the day and a big shout out to Jason Cripps and Leigh Whitney who support me greatly with the development of the girls.
Sean Brady – Coach