After the mixed emotions of last week’s draw the Rovers headed south this weekend for a match up with combined power of Mordialloc-Braeside. They were again down on numbers due to injury, illness and travel though they welcomed back the familiar faces of Matilda Clarkson and Lily Jones. After a rousing pre-game speech from Josh and an early miss at goal, the Rovers went about systematically dismantling the Mordi-Brae defensive structures as they scored 5 unanswered goals in a first quarter rout.
First up, at the southern end of the ground that Josh would later proclaim she owned, was Matilda Clarkson with a round the body long bomb. Then Juliet Moss and Lily Jones both joined the party with goals of their own. Not content with 1, Juliet Moss made a steal and turned that into another 6 points before Tess Ilcyznski delivered an inch perfect handball, as she would repeat throughout the game, to free up Matilda Clarkson to also score her 2nd of the quarter. It was an inside 50 bonanza made possible by the dominant work being done in midfield by Sienna Block, Ava O’Keefe and Madeline Miles that would characterise all 4 quarters.
On the rare occasions the Rovers were required to defend captain Evie Hall lead by example and quickly transitioned the ball to safety.
At quarter time, on the sidelines, this reporter had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the charming Nana Tuppen, grandmother of Rovers dynamo Olive Tuppen and mother of mercurial Goal Umpire Nick Tuppen. Having read previous match reports, she explained she’d come along to ascertain firsthand just how much damage her son had done to the family name. Fortunately, after years of disappointment watching her son play, Olive finally gave Nana something to cheer about as she laid on 2 classy second quarter assists that lead directly to a behind to Abbey Hickey and another goal to Lily Jones.
On defence Matilda Clarkson stopped at least one certain goal with some outstanding tackling and Ava O’Keefe won several hit outs to advantage leading into the long break.
After half time there was as good a passage of team play as you’ll ever see as Tess Ilcyznski linked with Nadia Stockwell whose clever handball found Matilda Clarkson with another goal the inevitable outcome.
At the other end of the ground Emma Bloom lead a water tight second half defensive effort that kept the home fans subdued. In fact, the general desperation of the team to get and secure possession was impressive given the increasing margin on the scoreboard.
In the last quarter the wind again saw Mordi-Brae spend more time in Rovers territory but an inspired Rovers’ midfield and defensive line saw wave after wave of attack repelled and the only blemish was a single behind. To round out the game the Rovers scored their own, via the boot of Vivienne Buckley, after the ball been through the hands of Sienna Block, Lily Jones, Matilda Clarkson and Madeline Miles, without the opposition so much as laying a finger on them.
So there we had it – a complete 4 quarter performance that saw coach and supporters beaming alike and confident heading into the last 2 weeks of the season against the league leaders.
With the team song energetically discharged it was time for the awards. It must have been especially difficult to choose the winners this week but no one begrudged Lilly Jones, Sienna Block, Tess Ilcyznski or Matilda Clarkson as their names were read out.