What a fantastic effort our girls put in for their first game of footy together for the Hampton Rovers!! The weather was in stark contrast to our practice match last week in St Kilda where we were telling the girls to sit in the shade and put on sunscreen! There was a feeling of nervous excitement in the rooms before the game as the girls prepared to brave the wind and rain out on the field. Coach Josh encouraged the girls not to worry about the scoreboard and just get in there and give it a go!
In the first quarter Emma Bloom did an awesome job in the ruck and put the pressure on the opposition with some fierce tackling and a great smother. There was some great play by Phoebe Wilson being awarded a free kick followed soon after with a great chase down of a St Kilda player. Georgia Paterson fought hard to break a tackle and followed up to defend her own ball after a big kick out from full back. Together the back line of Lola, Chloe, Matilda, Phoebe and Georgia saw a lot of the ball as they defended a solid St Kilda attack. Late in the first, Charli Bizzell bravely jogged from the ground with the trainers after hurting her wrist, replaced on the ground by the eager Audrey Hanson. A great effort from the girls in their first quarter of footy!
At quarter-time Coach Josh praised the girls for their effort but encouraged them not to give the opposition ‘the time of day’ to get a kick or handball in and to feel confident to lay a tackle and put some pressure on. And boy did the girls respond! They kept St Kilda GOALLESS in the second term! The girls really increased their defensive pressure in the second quarter with some great play from Juliet Moss off the backline including a fantastic run and great kick, only to be followed up by a second run and great kick! Zoe Hewlett fought hard to break off a tackle and the awesome efforts of Stella Coccaro, Matilda Brown, Lola Davis saw the majority of play move from the defensive half into the middle of the ground. In a great effort Captain Lily Jones teamed up with Stella Coccaro to lay a double tackle with Lily going on to deliver a beautiful kick and later miraculously break out of a pack. At half time Coach Josh was wrapped with the girls’ improvement labelling it ‘best quarter he’d seen them play’. He urged the girls to keep up the defensive pressure and not be afraid to lay a tackle.
After a great first half in the ruck, Emma Bloom continued her good form in the third quarter, this time playing on the back line booting some big ones from full back and laying some strong tackles. The ruck was contested by Ruby Theobold in the third but like many modern day talls she showed her agility and versatility laying several tackles including a double tackle with the fearless Willow Hunt. Willow was unstoppable popping up and tackling in contest after contest. She was well supported with great efforts from Nadia Stockwell, Zoe Hewlett and Matilda Brown. It was great to see Ruby Pollio get her first touch of the footy after only deciding to join the team on Thursday night! Audrey Hanson bravely got up after a strong tackle only to be carried from the field minutes later after hitting the ground hard in a contest. The quarter was wrapped up with a great clearance and effective handpass from Juliet Moss.
With the cold well and truly set in, the girls went into the last term with determination. Willow Hunt started the quarter with a great intercept in defence and kept up her good form. Agatha Beare made a big impression on the final quarter taking a brilliant mark on the defensive 50m line followed by a lovely kick to Nadia Stockwell and later running down her opponent to lay an effective tackle. Nadia too played her part, smothering a kick for goal by St Kilda, laying tackles and kicking the ball out of defence. Great efforts were made by Ruby Theobold and Georgia Paterson including a brilliant centre clearance. And we simply cannot forget to mention the girls assigned to the forward line each quarter who did a brilliant job jiggling, star jumping, dancing and ‘flossing’ to keep warm while the ball was down the other end!
The girls showed great sportsmanship in congratulating St Kilda City on their win at the end of the game but everyone was undeniably relieved to get back to the warm, dry changerooms. What a super effort from our girls in their first game of footy together!! As Coach Josh said, they got better every quarter and the awards to Willow for her guts and determination and constant pressure, Emma Bloom for getting her head over the ball and doing the hard work on her hands and knees, and our awesome Captain Lily Jones for her efforts in defence were well deserved. What a ripper first game girls and well done and thanks to Josh, Kylie, John, Ada, Robbie, Nathan and all of the other volunteer parents, parents and siblings whose names I am still to learn!!
Written by Olivia Cook (Audrey Hanson’s mum)