After a brief hiatus due to the monarch’s birthday the Rovers returned for their second game on Boss James Reserve, this time vs Prahran.
Also returning was Nick Tuppen, to the coveted Goal Umpire role as he looked to produce a confidence building performance and banish memories of his infamous display earlier in the season.
The conditions were best described as horrendous with multiple umbrellas decommissioned before and during the game on account of the gusty winds and heavy rain. Coach Josh’s game plan, adapted to the conditions, was simple – kick long and keep the handballs to a minimum.
The first quarter started brightly for the Rovers with an early goal to Matilda Clarkson. This was followed by some heavy defence from Tess Ilcyznski, Olive Tuppen and Lily Jones. Nadia Stockwell found Ruck Rover Bianca Stewart with an accurate punt and Vivienne Buckley also took a high-quality mark, the first of several throughout the game. In the forward line Amelia Lees clocked up several possessions.
However, with the wind at their backs, Prahran struck late with a goal and 2 behinds to hold the lead going into the first break.
The 2nd quarter, during which the weather had sideline supporter Ned Tuppen questioning “why are we even here?”, was a dour affair. Highlights were several long, territory grabbing kicks from Lily McEniry and a great mark and behind from Abbey Hickie, in what was the only score of the quarter. On the occasions the Prahran attack managed to penetrate the Rovers midfield the likes of Bianca Stewart, Tess Ilcyznski and Zoe Hewett cleaned up effectively at the back.
A solitary lightning strike close to the ground signalled the end of the first half and prompted several hopeful enquiries from the players if the game was to be abandoned.
More stoic defence lead by Juliet Moss, long bombs from Lily McEniry and possessions from Sienna Block helped to nullify the visitors’ tail wind advantage in the 3rd quarter and no points were forthcoming from either side.
Starting the 4th quarter a point down but with the wind at their backs, this seemed like a golden opportunity for the Rovers to show they’d learnt from their narrow loss in their last hit out vs Brighton. In strong echoes of that game, midfielder Sienna Block provided the forward line plenty of opportunities to register points but it was the opposition who struck first with a behind, to narrowly extend their lead.
A falcon to Lola Davis provided some entertainment before Madeline Miles took an impressive mark in the forward line then played on to kick a behind and close the gap on the scoreboard. Jessica Hart soon did likewise to square things up heading into the final moments of the game. As the clock ticked down a draw seemed inevitable but then up stepped captain Olive Tuppen to take a mark in front of the posts but towards the limits of her range.
Despite the clear final break instructions from Josh to take any goal scoring opportunity like this, Olive knew better (like most kids nowadays) and unselfishly promoted the ball to Jessica Hart, who was handier to goal. Seemingly oblivious to the pressure with the game hanging in the balance, the blood in her veins must have been as cold as the Melbourne weather, as her cleanly struck set shot never looked like missing and Olive’s preceding decision was vindicated.
There was still time for a final Prahran raid and after a few nervous moments where it seemed they might do the impossible and steal the game, the full-time siren sounded and the crowd roared as one. The Rovers had made it two from two at the Boss James fortress and the team song echoed around the home changing rooms once again.
Each and every girl deserved an award this week, just for turning up in the atrocious conditions; likewise their families. In the end the spoils went to Abbey Hickie for her great training ethic, Lily McEniry for ensuring the Rovers played at the right end of the field for much of the game, Olive Tuppen for her inspiring and selfless leadership and last minute goal scoring heroine Jessica Hart.
Your report at large
Grant (Nadia’s Dad)