After last week’s second round loss, the assignment didn’t get any easier in Round 3 as the Rovers confronted top of the table St Peters on the hallowed turf of Boss James Reserve.
Captained by Olive T, would they honour their Mothers with a performance befitting the importance of the day?
The answer was ‘yes’ as they more than achieved parity in the centre, but ultimately lost the game at either end of the field by conceding too many goals to an increasingly ruthless St Peters forward line and failing to convert their own chances.
Before the bounce, Coach Davis had delivered a rousing pre-match message during which he urged the girls to tag their much-vaunted opposition, adjust their play to the small ground and play on off the back of marks in search of an up-tempo game, that would suit the Rovers smaller but speedier squad.
Things started brightly with early sorties from Lola D and Joely H. Then as St Peters started to record inside 50s, Olivia K made two great defensive plays including a difficult mark that almost prevented a goal.
In midfield Amber M started chalking up possessions and Georgia B laid on a heavy tackle that set the tone for the Rovers midfield defensive effort. Matilda B soon joined in with a smother that denied St Peters a second goal after which Joely H won a free and combined with Lola D in midfield as the Rovers transitioned on to attack.
As the play broke down in midfield Zara K won the hit out and Madeline A applied more defensive pressure before being the recipient of a probing kick from Olive T as the Rovers got their first inside 50 which Zara R turned into a behind.
Charlotte C injected herself into the game with two quick possessions, the second of which she used to link up with Juliet M who put on another inside 50. As St Peters regathered possession and added an inside 50 of their own, Nadia S rotated on to make an important smother and stifle the St Peters attack.
As the siren sounded for quarter time St Peters took a narrow nine points to one ascendency into the break.
Coach Davis reminded the girls of his earlier instruction to play on after marks and to maintain the defensive intensity.
Charlotte C delivered a hit out to advantage at the resumption of play and Madeline A added more possessions to her fast growing tally. In defence Lily J showed great desperation and Matilda B pressure led to a free kick.
Nadia S started laying on tackles and kicked the ball inside 50. As St Peters repelled the Rovers attack and quickly sent the ball back to the other end of the field, Sienna G chimed in with a timely tackle and Matilda T got a clearing kick away. Despite Matilda B, Olivia K, Charlotte C and Joely H dominating the midfield, the Rovers could not prevent St Peters goal tally from ticking over twice more.
In midfield, Coach Davis’ pleas to play on from a mark were finally heeded, as Nadia S did just that. Juliet M ended up with the ball and interplayed well with Olive T but the former’s eventual shot on goal was smothered.
Lily J returned the favour with her own block as Zara R cleaned up at the back with a defensive mark right before half-time and the Rovers went into the metaphorical shed three goals behind but still in with a chance.
A Mother’s Day photo took precedence over the half-time chat although Coach Davis did get a chance to acknowledge the way the Rovers were dominating the centre clearances and urged them to keep this up.
The third stanza started with a Georgia B smother and a Juliet M long bomb. That was followed up by a smart Zoe H handball before her namesake, Joely, possessed twice in quick succession as they hunted in a ‘H’ pack. Hard at it up front, Amber M took a mark that produced a behind and as the Rovers kept the ball inside 50 more pressure led to a another behind, this time rushed by St Peters. Zoe H and Sienna G continued to maintain the high standards set in the first half in the middle of the ground, but Georgia B and Lola D’s great work in defence could not prevent a late flurry or St Peters goals, some more clear cut than others.
In the last quarter, St Peters pulled further away with six more goals to Hampton’s solitary behind that came off the back of Lily J and Matilda T hustle up front. This was despite another strong showing in midfield by the Rovers from the likes of Bianca S and Zara K, yet it could have been worse if not for multiple spoils from the Hampton defence, led by Matilda B.
So there you have it. After the highs of week one, the Rovers have come crashing back down to earth with two tough games against high quality opposition. But the smile meter was still high and under the capable stewardship of Coaches Davis and Moss, supported by rookie runner Nick ‘The Water Boy’ Tuppen, they will be a better team for it and I’ve no doubt the results will soon reflect that.
This week’s awards went to Olivia K for her multiple repeat efforts throughout the game, Georgia B for her intensity at training and on match day, Madeline A for the pressure she constantly applied to the opposition throughout the game and Matilda B for having such a highly involved performance. Finally, for the second week in a row Nadia S got to dip into the Davis Tackle Box – if only she tackled keeping her room tidy with the same enthusiasm she approaches the opposition.
To sign off, a special tribute on this day to all the amazing women in our lives, many of whom were on the sidelines for the match and without whose strength and determination we’d be without many of the best things in life, like getting to watch our daughters play footy every weekend.
Match report – Grant Stockwell[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].