Another glorious Sunday in Hampton and Under 10 Yellow were back to their home ground to take on the locals from East Sandringham. East Sandringham were the one team that had the better of our Rovers Team in U9s, and it was the first time the two teams had been scheduled to meet since then.
The journey from that point in the first round of 2018 had seen the Rovers Team, under Coach Julian, transform from a slow moving, short kicking team to a new brand of football with a focus on playing on at every chance – using the handball – using your team mate – and running to the next contest. The Rovers were keen to seek redemption against a very skilled and well drilled East Sandringham side.
Last week, the Rovers had re-discovered their pace around the contest, and their ability to create quick passages of play that would allow them to transition the zones. The confidence was starting to build in this team, with all of the boys starting to find themselves and get confident with contesting for the football, and they were now playing roles that helped the whole team succeed out on the ground.
The East Sandy coach had set up a camera man with elaborate production equipment on the side lines, such was the anticipated contest that was about to unfold.
Following the success of last week’s pre-game routine change, the Rovers warm-up preceded the team meeting in the change rooms. Like a flighty racehorse that enters the barrier at the last minute – the Rovers boys were held back in the rooms to run out on the ground and explode with intensity at the start of the first quarter.
The messages were clear to Team Yellow:
1. Play on quickly (Run, Bounce and Kick Long)
2. Stand next to your opponent (and always watch the ball); and
3. Use the First Option (use your eyes and voice to help your teammates – and to let them know you want the ball).
The first quarter started – and the midfield were under pressure early. Kai and Dylan were into everything, chasing hard – and laying tackles. Cooper, Will L, Charlie S, and Kit were competing – but probably just needed the confidence to use top gear in their legs.
The backs also saw a bit of action in the early part of the first quarter with Josh S., Ashton, Hugo, Jackson B, Jackson N, and Seb all working hard to prevent some of the East Sandy scoring attempts. The defence held strong – with Josh playing well down at full back. The midfield started to get more active – and the forward line was able to spring into life. Cruz had decided today he was going to remind us why he is such a powerful footballer. He twisted – he marked – and he sprinted to get his hands on the ball and by half time he had three goals.
At the end of the first quarter the Rovers were up against a strong challenge from East Sandy. Their players were able to kick to players on a lead, they would spot up players in the forward line – rather than all blast away for goal, and in the midfield the East Sandy team were combining quick linking handballs to outside players which was creating run and carry through the zone.
The Rovers line coaches again worked their magic at the quarter time huddle. Some players were challenged to get into the competition and assert themselves on the game. Ashton was challenged to get moving – and not to just watch the football, something that several players were all guilty of in the early stages of the match. From the second quarter onwards – Ashton was into every contest tackling hard – and running to the next contest each and every time. The coaches had moved Dylan into the backline due to the sub rotation with Jackson N coming to the bench – but we found that we were one tall player short. Coach Wayne called for Jeffrey to be moved into the midfield, to create the extra contest with the taller East Sandy players. We needed to make sure we kept the goal scoring potential of the forward line alive – and Eddie was the one who was shifted from the midfield to the forward line. Almost immediately the results started to show. Jeffrey was able to create the contest in the midfield that was needed – and linked a pass to Eddie for a great goal. Our other forwards were also creating contests that were helping the score line tick along nicely. Caelan, Kit, Will B, and Charlie E were all scrapping for the ball at every contest.
At half time – the scores were very close. Coach Nelson asked his players to concentrate only on the third quarter – and to give everything they had to their running. At three quarter time the Rovers would then worry about what they needed to do for the rest of the game.
The new midfield (after the half-time positional rotation) were challenged to play on quickly. Something that the Rovers had not done often enough in the first half. Jackson N, Josh, Jackson B and Dylan were all running on quickly after a mark or a free kick. Ashton was determined to lock every tackle down, and Hugo’s confidence was growing with every game he plays. In the forward line second half goals came from Seb, Eddie and Will L. All the goals were generated from quick play – either out of backline – quick transition through the midfield – or from deeper kicks by the midfield into the forward zone. At times in the third quarter there was a shoot-out with a Rovers goal quickly seeing an East Sandy response. That is the challenge when playing quality and skilled opposition – you can never stop trying. The Rovers were working hard, but their increased concentration was keeping them in the game.
At the final change of ends the Rovers were in charge. The final quarter saw players who had been slightly slow to get going at the beginning of the game now working hard across the ground. Players worth a mention were Kit, Charlie E, Cooper was starting to get his hands on the ball in the forward line and very nearly scored a goal with a snap off the outside of the boot, Kai played hard footy and kept creating a contest all day, Harrison was finding his confidence to take on the opposition, and Ashton was giving the midfield opposition the run around with his skilful moves.
At the end of the game – the Rovers team were able to be proud of their effort. The ability for all players to work themselves into the game showed a step up in their maturity level, and the increase in concentration over four quarters is another key to their improvement.
Back in the mighty Boss James home team rooms the Rovers U10 Yellow and Blue teams were able to join together in a very large circle to sing the song loud and proud.
In the end it was a great day for Team Yellow, and seeing the team reap the rewards of increased effort and application is why all the coaches are involved.
Well done Team Yellow. Go Rovers!!