The ‘Sausages’, as they’ve come to call themselves, returned from the break still buzzing after their drought-breaking win the prior round. Away from home they faced the significant challenge of an Ormond Team unbeaten so far this season.
To further compound matters, a scheduling clash and subsequent absence of first choice runner Sean Brady along with the unavailability of regular Team Manager Kylie Jones, forced a re-shuffle in the Rover’s support roles that included Nick Tuppen being named as Runner and Assistant Coach. A source close to the team revealed during the week lingering doubts about Nick’s ability to get through four quarters in the dual roles, not least because of a week spent carb loading in Penang in the lead up to the encounter. His late and breathy arrival to the venue did nothing to dispel those concerns.
To cap things off as the start of the game approached it became apparent the opposition were fielding a monster squad of 25 players no less, while the Rovers were going into the game with an in injury depleted roster of 14.
The game started with a flurry and the Rovers secured more than their fair share of territory and possession, moving the ball fluently through the different zones. Joely H started a trend she’d continue throughout the game by peeling off plenty of distance with her raking kicks as the two Matildas, T and B, also recorded possessions. Nadia S and Lily J made tackles that blunted the Ormond offence and Zoe H and Olivia K added nice touches too.
A goal from the home side against the run of play momentarily knocked the Rovers off their stride. However, they composed themselves via a Nadia S dink to a Charlotte C mark which set off a lovely passage of play also included Matilda B and Joely H exchanging midfield handballs, before the latter punted inside the forward 50 once again.
While that raid didn’t convert into points a Georgia B tackle forced a turnover soon after, off which captain Lola D kicked to Juliet M who promptly registered a behind.
Olive T was full of bustle every time the action came in her vicinity. Meanwhile, Lily J was equally fearsome and fearless in defence and the Rovers finished the stanza on attack as the siren denied them the opportunity for more points.
Whereas the first quarter was a free-flowing affair the second quarter was an arm wrestle with the Ormond Team, and their Runner, setting up camp in the Hampton defensive 50. To the credit of the Rovers’ back line of Lola D, Juliet M, Bianca S and Georgia B, the sustained pressure only amounted to 3 points.
Other highlights included Amber M handballing accurately to Lola D to get the Rovers out of trouble and some determined midfield play from Olivia K in the face of some tackling not entirely consistent with that permitted under the modified rules.
With it clearly apparent the Rovers were “not in Kansas anymore” there was an opportunity late in the quarter for Nadia S to score a goal after a Matilda B tackle secured possession, but her wizardry couldn’t bend her running shot sufficiently and a behind was the outcome.
Coach Davis pumped the girls up at half time – the Rovers were well and truly in this – and asked them to lift their work rate even more to compensate for the imbalance in numbers.
Let it also be noted that the oranges were cut to a noticeably higher quality than usual this week, enabling the girls to consume record amounts of vitamin c during the long break and resume the second half full of intent.
Tackles from Lola D and Matilda T rattled the hosts, and the second of two Bianca S drop punts inside 50 was well marked by Juliet M, the Rovers’ best on ground this quarter. With the posts slightly outside her range she launched a speculative kick across goal and Olivia K regathered to slot a behind that went some way to rewarding the Rovers dominance.
The inside 50 pressure continued, this time courtesy of Amber M and Zoe H, but the Ormond defence scrambled effectively to repel it time and time again. Sadly, this meant the earlier behind proved to be the only change to the scoreboard for the term, leaving the home side with a narrow 9-3 lead heading into the last quarter.
Things resumed brightly with Charlotte C and Matilda B both getting a brace of possessions in quick succession, yet it was here that the numerical difference started to tell as six consecutive scores from Ormond, 3 of which were goals, extended the score beyond the Rovers’ reach.
There was still time for a behind from Bianca S, a great Olive T grab and cheeky bounce as she walked back from the mark and lastly a set shot from sister Matilda T that was on target but fell agonisingly short.
During the post-game debrief Coach Davis rightfully pointed out the girls should be proud of their performance despite the loss and that given the circumstances, it was superior to the previous round’s win.
This week’s individual awards went to stand-outs Joely H, Juliet M and Lily J but the entire squad got to dip into the tackle box in recognition of an impressive team effort across the ground.
And to give credit where credit is due, Runner/Assistant Coach Nick Tuppen defied earlier predictions by successfully making it through the game, though he was clearly exhausted as he came off the ground, as captured in this short video.[Writers caveat: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this report but I’m getting old, my eyes are failing and everything seems to happen so quickly nowadays so I apologise in advance for any errors, embellishments or glaring omissions].