Last week’s report started with “Wow, what a finish….so close, just to get pipped on the buzzer!”. Well it seems that lightening can strike twice. This time, we led all day, only to be overtaken in the last minute of the game.
Today’s captains were Bailey M and Sidney – both boys took to the challenge and led the team well all day. Congratulations boys.
We kicked with the wind in the first quarter, however we found ourselves having to defend for a lot of the quarter as East Malvern’s midfield ran hard and applied enormous drive and pressure early in the game. Our defence stood up very well. Matt C and Max were welcomed additions back into the side and had terrific first quarters. Nate was providing some run off half back, and Jake and Will were doing an enormous job on the last line of defence supported by Jack W who found himself in an unusual position.
Our mids started to work into the game and we moved the ball up the wing with some great run and connection. James C was dominating the ruck contest, often hitting the ball to himself and using his size to advantage by pushing his way through the pack and banging the ball long. Sidney had a great game again today and was everywhere in the first quarter. Ollie M, Jack M, Thomas and Mitch all started to find the ball as we pushed back against the Knights and started to get the ball into our forward forty.
Niko had really strong hands on display today and his determination to get the ball when it went deep into our forward line was really pleasing. These efforts were rewarded after Stef kicked the ball across the face of goal and Niko reached out and snatched it before slotting through our first goal.
Not long after we kicked our second via James P, who was off to a really solid start. We went into quarter time two points up courtesy of our forward line efficiency. The message at quarter time was to be ready for an all-out attack by East Malvern’s runners as they kicked with the wind.
Our boys heard the message and defended tightly. We used the huddle from kick outs and kicked long to the defensive wing. Will was carrying out these instructions perfectly and was also showing great strength on the last line of defence, stopping a number of goals via some terrific spoils.
The execution of instruction by the boys, their tackling pressure and their run was rewarded on the scoreboard – not kicking into the wind didn’t mean much to our boys in the second term. It started down back with Ollie M playing a very accountable quarter with enormous rebounding run once we gained possession of the ball. Bailey M was showing leadership down back as well constantly putting his small frame on the line and holding the opposition up. Matt C finished out an outstanding first half holding the Knights up across half back, he found a partner in Stefan who was really imposing himself on the game physically.
The midfield were inspirational with Geordie showing us what he could do in the ruck, Sidney continuing his fine game, Max and Peter playing with lots of run and focusing on the defensive side of their game. Mitch, Jack M and Thomas were running their hearts out on the wings and driving us forward.
There were some great examples of forward pressure, none greater than Robbie who battled two on one. He was out of position but kept chasing and just getting his hand in on the ball to knock it forward each time the Knights player tried to pick the ball up. The end result was a ball up after we locked the ball in a pack. This highlighted our spirit and never give up attitude – a great 1 percenter!
James B was having his best quarter of the game, roaming across half forward he showed really clean hands and was able to out fox his opponent with some great footwork on a couple of occasions as he rolled onto his right foot.
All this effort was rewarded with a one goal to none quarter to the Rovers against the wind. Jake was up forward and showed a lot of strength in the pack to pick up the ball and snap his goal. Jake was a real target and looked very dangerous all quarter. Jake’s goal meant we were up by a goal at half time.
The third quarter was probably the best quarter of football we’ve seen from the boys this season. We linked up, kicked goals and showed better structure and accountability. Aided with the wind and Stef leading us in the ruck, Jack M, Ollie M, Peter and Ollie F were able to outrun the Knights midfield. We saw some outstanding link work – particularly a passage that saw a great tackle from Ollie M spill the ball, Peter collect and pass to Jack M at half forward who marked and passed to Jake. Jake centred the ball to full forward, where we were unfortunately out marked.
We got then had a flurry of goals. Firstly, Peter found Bailey S with a pass – Bailey marked and converted. A minute or so later a Niko tackle spilt the ball, followed by a great tackle from Bailey S who was rewarded with a holding the ball 15 metres out from goal. Bailey converted to have two in a row. Now we had all the momentum!
James P continued a terrific game and popped up to kick out next goal – a great gather in the pack and snap. Not long after James was back in the play taking a mark and converting for his third of the game.
We went into three quarter time with a handy lead but just we were warning the boys about kicking against the wind we felt the wind kick up a notch – it was going to be a tough last quarter.
East Malvern came out in full attack mode and peppered the goals with a howling wind at their back. Our boys were hanging on but as the quarter progressed and the pressure mounted, we started to lose our structure and game plan. The boys fought the game out right to the end and it took a very late mark and conversion by East Malvern with less than a minute to go to break the hearts of our boys and have the lead taken from us for the first time in over three and a half quarters.
Footy can be a cruel and tough game – it has been over the past two weeks. However, there are so many positives to come out of today. Our forward line looked really dangerous for most of the game. Our midfield matched up really well against some real class and our backline were brave all fought hard all day against the tide.
We’ll take all the positives from today and keep working on the areas that fell away. I’m excited about what we are going to see from the boys as the season progresses. Our next win is not far away.
So let’s keep our chins up and stick together – we’ll work hard at training, keep enjoying our footy and the company of our mates.
Damo – Coach
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates!
BTW – Boys make sure you touch your football 100 times each day!!