The girls took on a very strong South Melbourne side who had gone through the grading games undefeated. Training had been cancelled during the week due to the horrendous Melbourne weather and there was some risk that the girls were going in slightly underdone.
We were lucky that it was a fine morning as the lack of changerooms down at Albert Park would have made for unpleasant viewing if the Rovers support team were all getting wet.
The offer from the South Melbourne coach to play 5/5/5 due to both teams having extra numbers was politely declined after lessons learned in relation to congestion the week before (I was also reminded during the week that league rules do not permit more than 12 players on the ground at a time even if both teams want to give all girls a run on the field). For the first time this season, the oval length was not shortened and therefore running and ball carrying was going to hold the key for our girls.
It was clear from the first bounce that we were going to have to work overtime in order to stay competitive. Jasmyn B, Jazzey C, Tilly and Lealah started in the middle for us and were instructed to run 10 steps with the ball before kicking long into our forward area. Our forward line was full of class and experience with four girls who had kicked goals in previous weeks – Audrey H, Bianca, Sienna and Jess W all keen to get on the end of the kicks from our mids. The plan seemed quite simple but despite the efforts of our girls, we found it difficult to go into our forward 50 as often as we would have liked. Our back line of Sophie, Audrey P, Lily and Tara were all put under more pressure than the current Carlton coach to hold his job and did extremely well to only concede one goal and a couple of points for the quarter. A highlight was Jess W’s impersonation of Dustin Martin with the ‘don’t argue’ which she used on the opposition whilst trying to get through traffic to have a shot on goal.
We went with experience in the middle in the second quarter and Audrey H, Jess W, Lily and Jasmyn were asked to push really hard as we needed to increase entries into the forward line. Jazzey, Sophie, Poppy and Tara were waiting right on the zone markers ready to pounce on loose balls as they were fired in. Once again, the South Melbourne team were giving as good as they got and led by their six-foot tall midfielder, they were able to stop most of our forward thrusts. It was again over to our backline to hold up the fort and Bianca, Tilly, Jess T and Siennna were able to repel most of the attacks. A huge mention to Jess T who took three big marks after reading the play beautifully and showed how far she has come after only joining the side after the season had started. Tilly also had a great quarter and laid numerous important tackles.
The girls jogged to the half-time huddle as one to grab an orange and some water. It was clear that if the girls wanted to sing the song today that we needed a huge third quarter. Goals had been hard to come by and the girls were encouraged to take the game on by running and playing on whenever possible to get the ball moving forward. Our team was raring to go and all were in their positions whilst the South Melbourne team stayed in their huddle. From the time that Stu blew his whistle to start proceedings it was evident that our girls had lifted. Jazzey got right on top in the middle and with great support from Audrey P, Tara and Sophie the Sherrin was being sent into our dangerous territory at will. Jazzey and Sophie combined with great team work on a few occasions. Up forward, Tilly began to dominate and kicked a great major to put us right back in it. Enter Jasmyn who must have been licking her chops as she got to the right spot on multiple occasions and slotted two big goals for the quarter with all of the ascendency now with the Rovers girls. Jess T was ever so close to kicking a goal a couple of time as well and Lealah was starting to really find her way in only her second ever game. Tess, Audrey H, Poppy and Jess W were able to watch on from defence and were right on their opponents if ever the ball dared to enter their zone. What a quarter!! The girls’ best for 2019 and a massive sign of things to come.
There were smiles all round as we grouped together at the final change and the girls were commended on the wonderful display they had put on for all to see. It was clear from the resumption of play that our girls were still “on” when Jess W led the charge with a great smother from defence and we knew then that our group were not prepared to concede a goal. Sophie chimed in with tackle of the day and all of our girls continued to work hard right up to the final siren. The girls showed that when challenged they can work as a team and combine to find a way to goal. It was very pleasing that we were able to keep South Melbourne scoreless by applying maximum pressure from quarter time after they came so close to kicking goals on numerous occasions.
The Rovers song was sung with gusto and could be heard at Melbourne Airport and this was definitely our hardest fought effort of 2019. The girls were each given their bag of snakes for their tackling effort the week prior. Coaches awards could have gone to anyone and the recipients for their great team play this week went to Bianca, Lealah, Jess W and Lily.
Coach U10 Girls