After a good week on the track, the boys showed up ready for this week’s clash against Mordi Braeside. We welcomed Geordie D for his first game after recovering from a broken arm, Will S returning; and we also welcomed Sidney Z-D for his first game in Rovers colours. All three were valuable additions.
The boys were asked before the game to continue to work on their teamwork, to remember to hold some structure – particularly from kick-ins and in forming a wall around our forward 40 when we were attacking. It was pleasing to see these requests being generally adhered to – and also pleasing to see some reward for the boys as we were able to clear the ball from defence and create some great opportunities at goal courtesy of our wall.
Today’s captains were Niko and Nate. Niko certainly led from the front and got us off to a flyer marking and kicking a goal early, to follow on from some great work out of the middle – James C in particular was using his height and strength to great effect. Sidney was everywhere in the first quarter, winning his own ball and providing some powerful run through the middle.
In fact, our next two goals were kicked by Sidney – the first one he crumbed out of the pack and snapped truly, whilst the second saw him take a mark about 35 metres out and convert. Sidney was able to take this mark because he and a couple of the other onballers had formed a wall, locking the ball in.
We did a lot of attacking in the first quarter; Max, Ollie Mac and Thomas were really running hard and driving us forward. Whilst Ollie F was getting his hands on the ball at half forward and operating as an important link as we sent the ball deep into our forward line.
Mordi Brae were able to sneak one back, but we held a two goal lead at quarter time.
The second quarter was a very even contest with Mordi Brae starting to push forward hard and hit the scoreboard. Our defence was being tested, but the boys never dropped their heads and stuck to the task, constantly repelling attacking moves. Will S was standing up at full back and was being well supported by Bailey M who was really throwing his body into the contest. Matt C was the general down back, keeping the boys in formation and he was well supported by Geordie who was really making an impression.
In the middle, Stefan had moved into the ruck and was making his presence felt with some big tackles and bumps. Peter was running hard out on the wing whilst James B continued on from great start in the first quarter. Sidney had once again set himself up on the wall and fired a pass through to James about 25 metres out. James rolled around onto the right foot after taking the mark and kicked truly. A number of our forwards were looking dangerous with a couple of near misses from Jack W (who was dangerous all day in the pocket) and Matt G. It was great to see avenues to goal open up this week. Less congestion has really helped.
Max B plays the game old school – hard and direct. Max had another great start to the game. In the back half of the quarter Max was pulled back in a marking contest and whacked his head on the ground, causing us all some concern. We got him off the ground for assessment (by mum as it turns out! Kate was our trainer). Typical Max was pushing past the fuss and wanting to get back out to the contest quickly, but better to be safe than take a risk and Max was forced to sit out his 20 minutes.
At half time we still held a two-goal lead. Mordi Brae were making it clear they were here to fight the game out – there would be no lying down. The coaches were very pleased with our boys’ efforts. They had taken instruction very well, but we just needed to ensure we didn’t have any lapses in concentration.
The third quarter was another great contest. Our mids continued to work very hard. Matt G moved into the ruck, Peter ran his heart out on the wing racking up possessions, Nate also got right into the play. Ollie Mac has been a great pick up this year and was fantastic all quarter, as was Jack Mc who was continuing his fine form (including one worm burning pass out of the centre square!).
Both the James’ played great quarters across the half forward line, James C kicking our second goal for the term. The first came from James B, thanks to a chaos ball from Niko out of the right forward pocket into the goal square where James B was able to gather, shrug off an opponent and bang it through for a major. Niko was fantastic today, using his strength and height to great effect. He almost kicked another and is going to be very dangerous for us up forward this year.
The backline held strong under constant pressure. Jake F is a real leader back there. Jake has grown both in height, but also running capacity over summer and is being used at both ends of the ground to great effect. Jake was well supported by Robbie, who is also off to a great start to the year – he is one of our most disciplined defenders and is growing every week. Bailey S was asked to do a job down back and didn’t let the team down, after doing some creative stuff up forward early in the game. You need to watch Bailey as he constantly flies under the radar – he is one of our most intelligent players.
So, it came down to the last quarter, a couple of goals in it and Mordi Brae coming home fast. Our backline was under immense pressure, but they applied plenty of pressure right back. Mordi Brae had lots of opportunities but couldn’t convert. Will S played an outstanding quarter at full back, providing rebounding run, some big tackles and used his thumping right foot to clear the ball back over Mordi’s wall. He was well supported by Jack H who in game number two was fantastic. Thomas was also important for us. Thomas is a terrific runner; he got a lot of the ball today and also did a lot of defensive running.
Matt C and Geordie also stood up in the final quarter which yielded no goals for either side but was an engrossing affair.
In the end Rovers prevailed by 8 points in a very good game. Great reward for some hard running, disciplined play and a never say die attitude towards every contest.
A couple of special mentions – firstly to the under 9 boys who manned the scoreboard – thanks boys! Secondly, to Peter Shady and Matty G who played up for the under 13’s this morning, before showing up and giving their all in this game. Both were great contributors in the U13 game and also important players in ours. Willingness to pitch in and help out other teams (including scoring) makes for a tight knit, united club!
I’m looking forward to next week, we’ve got plenty to work with and on!
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates!
BTW – Boys make sure you touch your football 100 times each day!!