Perfect day for footy today, the weather was fine, and we had the opportunity to play on the mighty (big!) home of Rovers – Boss James. This game was a must win to keep our season alive – we weren’t off to a great start though with James P slipping in the rooms and landing awkwardly on his wrist, ruling him out for the game. I’m pleased to be able to report though that our early bush doctor prognosis of a broken wrist was incorrect, and James sustained a sprain instead. Fingers crossed for a fast recovery!
Thomas played his 50th game of SMJFL football today. He, along with three mates made the move to Rovers last year and he has become a real heart and soul player in our team, consistently showcasing all the Rovers values. Congratulations Thomas – captain for the day to cap off his milestone.
Before the game the boys and I had a pretty serious heart to heart about what it would take to win today. A much better start was critical, and this can simply be put down to being switched on to a game mindset before for first bounce, something that has been lacking in recent weeks. The boys took this on board and this week Rovers were the first one out of the blocks applying lots of forward pressure to our opponents.
The boys were switched on and hit the ground running in the first term. The backline stood up strongly but didn’t have a lot of work to do. Jake was deep, supported by Bailey and Matty G, whilst Matt C, Max and Will patrolled the half backline – all stood their man very well.
The midfield were pushing us forward. We welcomed Peter back and he got off to a flyer, Ollie Mc was working hard in the packs, James C was winning the ruck contest and getting his hands on the ball around the ground. Thomas was also contributing and looking good in his 50th game.
Jack Mc looked dangerous up forward with his silky skills, Stef was working hard across half forward, as was Robbie who continued on his hard work from last week. Jack W looked like he might be “on” today and James B was being a great option across half forward. We opened up the goal scoring courtesy of Jack Mc who took a mark and converted, Thomas was everywhere and hit the post in a near miss after the umpire called play on as soon as he had the ball in his hands after receiving a free kick.
At quarter time we held an eight-point lead, which didn’t reflect just how dominate the boys had been. It can be dangerous not to capitalise on the scoreboard when you’ve had all the play.
South Melbourne came out and started to find some paths forward in the second term. We continued to win a lot of the ball but the Swans were able to kick a goal after a turn over to come close.
The midfield continued to work very hard. Just as Peter was starting to dominate the play he went down with what looked like a very serious ankle/foot injury but thankfully turned out to be just a stinger and he was able to return after half time. Jack W put his body into a couple of packs, almost took a great mark, but soldiered on and not long after was feeding a handball out to a team-mate after winning a contested ball.
James C was pushing forward and had a great opportunity to kick a goal, only to narrowly miss. Stef kept presenting himself, Nate had moved up forward and was getting into the play, whilst Robbie, James B and Niko continued to toil away in a very congested environment.
Our mids were very impressive and Thomas, Sidney, Ollie Mc and Ollie F worked really hard to run the ball to the forwards and then lock it in. Jake had a brief run in the ruck and showed his versatility winning each contest comfortably.
Not much in it at half time but we were still in the lead. Bring on the third quarter and South Melbourne’s belief was growing. A spot in the four was on the line. They kicked an early goal to hit the lead, but we stuck at the task and in a great team effort fought back with our own goal through Ollie Mc, who received a free kick deep in our forward line and converted calmly.
Matty G moved into the ruck and played through some pain after having his hand stood on – brave effort as it turns out, as x-rays have since showed he played through with a fractured hand. He was well supported by Thomas, Peter, Will, Sidney and Jack Mc, who ran hard all quarter.
The backline were holding up pretty well, playing a tight game. Bailey S was in fine form, playing as a sweeper across half back and mopping up a number of attacks. Max played a similar game – he used his smarts to play a kick off the play and attacked the ball with great vigour when the opportunity arose. Matt C was in every pack and stopped a number of attacking moves with his great strength in the contest. Geordie was limping but able to play through some pain and did his best to stay on top of his man.
The forward line did all they could to hit the scoreboard, but again, a congested forward half made this difficult. Robbie continued to present himself, as did Jack W and Stef. James B was now really getting into the game and Nate was increasingly being a live wire. Niko continued to toil away and was starting to look more dangerous as we headed towards three quarter time.
We held a 5-point lead going into the last, but once again South Melbourne hit the ground running and scored an early goal to hit the lead. From this point we once again dominated general play, but we weren’t hitting the scoreboard which was becoming more concerning as the quarter wore on.
Niko was able to present himself on a number of occasions and found himself in the perfect spot, however, we just couldn’t pin-point a pass. There were several impressive pieces of link play and we had shots marked on the goal line on three occasions, to still find ourselves a point down. Finally, a point was scored to draw us level and this seems to open the gates a little.
Matty G, James C and Stef were driving us forward, setting up a nice wall across half forward. Finally, we were able to kick two quick goals, the first to Peter, capping off a great game. Peter collected the ball out of a pack and snapped truly. Then after a number of near misses through out the game, James C also snapped a nice goal to put us in an unassailable position.
We were well served by a very disciplined backline in the last quarter. The boys played their man tight and were supported by Max and Bailey who both played very intelligent games and put themselves into he hole repeatedly. Selfless play when it would have been easy to move up the ground looking for kicks. Will also was fantastic off the wing, willing himself back on a number of occasions as an extra layer of protection when South Melbourne looked like pressing into their forward 50.
Ollie F also needs a mention as he gave it his all today. Playing predominately in the backline, but also the wing Ollie chased and harassed and did all the team one percenters. He is having an outstanding year and continues to shine – always taking the team first approach.
This was an important win as it has moved us back into the four. Next week becomes a really big game…again. We take on St Pauls McKinnon who sit just above us on the ladder. So, get to training, we need a big focused week on the track in preparation for our biggest game of the year.
Let’s keep enjoying our footy and the company of our mates.
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates!
BTW – Boys make sure you touch your football 100 times each day!!