Cold and blustery conditions greeted us at Castlefield this morning as we resumed after school holidays. Four boys down today, but plenty of enthusiasm to celebrate Wes Sando’s 50th game – congratulations Wes! Wes and Will were our two captains for our big clash against fourth placed St Peters.
St Peters were a couple short, so once again, showing they are incredibly good sports the boys sacrificed our only bench player to substitute for our opposition. Congratulations and thank you to Hugo, James, Stefan, and Tobey – you all approached this with a great attitude.
Also, congratulations to Zac, Jake S and Matty G who filled in for our other under 11 side in the game immediately preceding our own. A great opportunity for the boys to play against a graded division one club. All acquitted themselves well in a very competitive game.
St Peters kicked with a strange, swirling wind in the first quarter and although Rovers dominated possession for most of the quarter it was our opposition who kicked a goal, the only score for the quarter, late in the term.
Wes was off to a great start on the wing in his 50th, providing lots of attacking run and getting a lot of the ball. He was well supported by Zac off the half back line and our onballers Gideon, Oscar and Harry B who were locked in a great duel in the middle but were thankfully getting plenty of the pill. Matty G started in the ruck, covering for Charlton, who was missing, and provided great contest against a bigger opponent.
We continued to control possession for much of the second quarter and did plenty of attacking. Two goals, two behinds was the return for our efforts, all the while keeping St Peters scoreless. Ever reliable Will snapped our first goal out of the pack after a centring kick from Wes. Wes, who was continuing his great form, crumbed and snapped our second for the quarter – using his left foot! Well done, Wes, great to see you prepared to go both feet.
James had a terrific quarter, gaining a lot of possessions between the wing and half forward….for St Peters! James should be very proud of the effort he put in whilst filling in for our opposition. He has done himself and the club proud.
Zac moved onto the ball and continued his high-class game, gaining possessions at will. Gideon played a quarter across half back, showed great discipline in marking his man and still managed to get plenty of the ball. Thomas was also at half back and provided lots of attacking run as he repelled St Peters attacking forays. Matty Cole was also very disciplined at centre half back and was never beaten, while Max had a great first half, using his strong body to great effect.
Bailey S was getting into the game and once again providing lots of body work and creative handpassing. Stefan had a quarter in the ruck and contested everything that came his way.
We went into half time 8 points up in a close one. The third quarter saw us kicking into the breeze. We reminded the boys to know where their opponent was when we didn’t have the ball, defend the coaches box side of the ground, and attack through centre half forward. I’m proud of the way the boys went about their work in the third quarter with these instructions all being followed.
We managed to prevent St Peters from scoring in the third quarter, while kicking a goal ourselves. Ollie provided this highlight, capping off some great determination from he and his team mates. Ollie had another very good game today, reading the play and consistently getting his hands on the ball – he looked very dangerous up forward in the second half.
Gideon went back onto the ball this quarter and hunted the ball to great effect. Jake S went onto the wing and provided lots of run, terrific effort backing up for his second game in a row. Thomas wasn’t slowing down, now on the other wing and played very effectively one kick back from the play.
Max went to centre half forward and provided a focal point and Hugo was running around his feet trying to get on the end of some crumbs. James continued to work really hard in the third, this time for the Rovers – he is becoming a serious target up forward.
Bailey M continued his good form of late and shone in the second half. In the third quarter he got onto a number of loose balls, with one ever so close effort that saw his shot on goal just miss to the right of the goal post. Will combined with these boys and was a live wire, looking very dangerous.
Oscar was doing a terrific job on the half back line and took a serious head knock – thankfully he was ok, passed his concussion test and was able to play the game out. Matty C put on some big tackles and continued to own centre half back, while Jake F also had full back locked down. Tobey returned from holidays, sporting a very festive hairstyle and wore his opponent like a glove all game.
So, we went into the last quarter with a little bit of breathing room, 16 points up. Although we conceded one goal, we were able to kick 2.3 ourselves to win the quarter and the game. In probably the play of the day for Rovers, our first goal came from a chain of passes. After clearing the ball from half back, Will (who was on the wing) passed to Jake S at half forward, who passed the ball over the top of the pack to Bailey M, who was able to run into an open goal and kick his second for the season from ten metres out. Well done boys, it was great to watch!
Harry B had done some seriously heavy work all game and continued this in the last term. One of these pieces resulted in our final goal for the game. Speaking of heavy work, we threw Max into the ruck and although he conceded a foot in height, he used his body to great effect and won most ruck contests as well as making a real impact around the ground.
Other than conceding a goal, the ball barely went into our defensive half in the last term. There was a lot of great team work and ball sharing going on up forward – as we continually pushed forward. Jake S went down in a heavy tackle and was forced to leave the ground, but thankfully was able to return not long after.
There was some great discipline shown by the boys today. I saw shepherds being applied every quarter, a lot of handballing to team mates in better positions and as the game wore on we got better at holding our position up forward, which then resulted in more centring play (rather than attacking into the pockets). These are all significant improvements in our play from the start of the year. Perhaps the most important aspect of our team play that has improved and must be highlighted is our accountability. Today was almost perfect. I think this is the piece of discipline that will dictate how our season goes from here.
Thomas, Zac, Oscar, Harry, Ollie and Gideon have started to show they have enough understanding and discipline to hold back one kick from the play at the right time to allow us to cut off our opponents attacking moves and turn a defensive structure into an attacking opportunity. Hopefully we can continue to see this; and the rest of the boys follow suit. This understanding is a very important piece in their football development as they start to appreciate the difference between ball chasing and using structure, discipline and their smarts to the team’s best advantage.
Great team effort today boys. Looking forward to a big game next week against top placed East Malvern.
See you at training on Thursday. Don’t forget to touch your football 100 times each day!
Damo, Chris and Rod
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates