Firstly, a big Happy Mother’s Day to all the mum’s out there – thanks for sacrificing your Mother’s Day lunch for a hot dog at the footy as you cheered on your boys!
Today we were away to Bentleigh, a side that had been promoted a division after winning their first four games – an opponent that we thought would give us a real challenge. Niko and Wes were our captains for the day.
As noted last week, the boys once again carried great momentum into this game with the way they finished off the last game. Rod did some great work with all the midfielders during the week on setting up at ball ups and boundary throw ins. Our boys had obviously listened because the midfield were amazing in the first quarter (well the whole game really) and continually took the ball out of the middle and stoppages and pushed it forward. Bentleigh got the first score on the board early (a point) and this was the last time they scored until late in the second quarter.
The boys are really starting to share the ball with each other and work for each other – the improvement each week has been pleasing and noticeable. We had a fine example of this early in the first quarter when Harry B passed the ball to Charlton, who passed it to Giddy, who calmly kicked a long goal. Our next goal started with some great ruck work from Charlton in our forward line who knocked it down to Will who snapped truly.
Our boys were working as a team brilliantly, and this was highlighted again when Harry B passed to Ollie, who kicked into the forward line, a pack formed, Giddy roved off the pack and kicked his second goal – goal kicking midfielders are every coaches dream (and we have a few!). We continued to attack and Harry B, who along with Giddy was in everything, received a free kick 30m out straight in front, went back and put it straight through the middle – terrific game today Harry!
Charlton had a very good opponent in Bentleigh’s ruckman but he wasn’t to be beaten and perhaps the play of the day started with a big punch forward out of the centre bounce from Charlton to our advantage, Harry W ran onto it in space, took a bounce and pumped it to the hot spot (classic midfield play) – these are all things we have been practicing, it’s very pleasing to see the boys adopt them in-game. Harry’s kick carried to about 15 metres out where Niko had out-bodied his opponent, had the perfect position and marked on his chest. Niko took his time, calmly went back and kicked truly, two goals in a minute!
This is Niko’s first year and this was his first goal for Rovers – well done Niko, we’re all proud of you and may you kick many more!
Jake S had been very busy in the first quarter up forward without managing to get himself a goal – he is doing some terrific work in our forward line putting pressure on the opposition and creating opportunities from contested situations. Ollie was showing great discipline and put on a really big shepherd to protect a team mate and give him extra time to steady and dispose of the ball.
Credit to the backline who in the back half of the quarter didn’t see much of the ball but remained disciplined, accountable and in position – this was something we’ve been talking about a lot and was noticeable to the whole coaching team. Oscar in particular was running hard off the back flank and showing us just how valuable and dangerous his running ability is. Zac and Ollie were providing double trouble for Bentleigh on the wings and were a big part of why we were able to keep the ball in our attacking half.
At quarter time we continued to emphasise team play and “one-percenters” – shepherds, tackling, accountability. The boys were listening and started the second term as they had finished the first – attacking. Niko came close to having another shot that would likely have been a goal, Bailey S’s handballing ability continues to shine – he is very creative and measured when using his hands and continued this week to create opportunities for boys in better positions than himself. James was showing great determination (as he had in the first quarter) and put enormous pressure on Bentleigh in our forward line.
The pressure to keep the ball in our forward line was immense and finally paid dividends – Oscar took a great mark against three opponents by simply reading the flight of the ball better out near the 40 metre line, on the boundary, he put the ball back into our forward line, Harry W (who was everywhere) bobbed up and nearly took a terrific mark, recovered, kicked it to Harry B who slotted his second goal of the game.
We continued to press forward, and before long, the elusive Will who manages to find space where there simply is none, snapped truly also for his second goal of the match.
Bentleigh did have some attacking opportunities, however, our backline remained steadfast and disciplined. Jake Fix held down full back, letting nothing through, Thomas was providing great rebounding off half back and Robbie was out numbered at one point pouncing on an opponent that wasn’t his direct responsibility and wrapping him up in a tackle, preventing Bentleigh from kicking their first goal.
Matty G was running around in the ruck, competing well and almost got himself a goal after picking the ball up and moving through traffic, snapping only to narrowly miss. The rest of the midfield continued their dominance with Giddy, Harry W and Oscar continually controlling play. Zac and Wes were also running hard on the wing, rebounding and turning defence into attack.
Oscar added our third goal of the quarter and is also an addition to the “first goal for Rovers” club. Congratulations Oscar, great way to cap off some terrific football you’re consistently playing.
The third quarter was more competitive, with Bentleigh showing us why they had been moved up a division, however, our boys continued to battle hard. Niko moved into the ruck (having his best game for the club), Ollie went into the middle, along with Wes and continued to do us proud. Thomas and Baily S had a run on the wing and Zac and Hugo moved to the black flank, both holding us steady.
James came really close to pulling off a terrific mark in the goal square from a Harry B snap and Thomas put on one of the biggest shepherds we’ve seen this year to protect a team mate. Will was having a great game up forward and attempted a difficult contested mark in our forward line before recovering, crumbing his own attempted mark and snapping his third of the match.
A tight third quarter from both sides saw only one goal kicked, but Rovers remained on top keeping the majority of the play in our half. We asked the boys to ignore the scoreboard in the last quarter and try and win the quarter. The fourth quarter was another tighter affair, with both sides kicking 2 goals 4 behinds each.
Matty C moved up forward in the last quarter and had a couple of shots, unfortunately both missing, however, he was very lively and a great target at centre half forward. Wes is always dangerous around goal and he capped off another great game with a snapped goal – well done Wes, you led by example today doing lots of hard work.
Max had moved up the ground in the third quarter and was running hard through the middle. He’s an uncompromising type and very hard to stop when he gets up some momentum. Max also showed us some real class in the final quarter by moving through the middle, taking a bounce and delivering into the forward line. Hugo was really starting to get into the game and he found a bit of space through centre half forward to take two bounces and got himself into a position where it would have been easy to take a long shot at goal, but in a selfless team act, he handpassed to Zac who was in a better position. Zac is amazingly light on his feet, and he almost had his head knocked off as he turned to run, but he swayed at just the right moment to avoid contact, run another five metres, steady and put through our second and final goal of the quarter. I believe this may have been Zac’s first goal in a couple of seasons, but I’m sure it won’t be his last!
A couple of other stand out efforts in the last quarter that need to be highlighted included Bailey M, who is the smallest and lightest boy in the team applying a perfect shepherd to protect Harry B as he ran through our half forward line – another example of one of our boys making sacrifices for their team mates. Harry was able to run on and have a shot at goal.
Tobey Parker is developing into an old school hard running defender. As each week goes on we are seeing him get more confident. Tobey beat his opponent one on one out on the defensive wing and pumped the ball forward – we can always rely on Tobey to be accountable and stick to his opponent, never giving them an easy possession.
Well done boys, another terrific effort today – I think the best four quarter team performance of the year. I know we can still improve though, let’s keep working hard at training!
See you all Thursday. Don’t forget to touch your football 100 times each day!
Damo, Chris and Rod
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates