At home for a second luxurious week in a row, on the hallowed turf of Boss James Reserve, the mighty Rovers squared off against St Peters of Bentleigh East. With both teams coming off narrow losses the scene was set for another epic encounter.
The conditions were ideal, the Rovers had trained much better during the week and they looked confident as captain Emma Bloom led them onto the field.
As we’ve come to expect, Lily McEniry started with the first of 4 first quarter hit outs, with the typically aggressive Lola Davis, the primary beneficiary. Matilda Clarkson presently delivered a searching kick into the forward line leading to an Olive Tuppen possession. In midfield Bianca Stewart won a free which she turned into a behind and give the Rovers an early but narrow advantage.
Nadia Stockwell blocked the resulting restart to keep the ball in the forward line and not long after Olive Tuppen went on a rampage, fending off two would-be defenders before showing great composure to slot a goal and extend the lead.
As the ball finally made it into the Rovers back line Emma Bloom, Juliet Moss, Abbey Hickey and Lily Jones all had turns at nullifying the St Peters’ attack in a first half defensive shutout.
With the quarter drawing to a close, a great passage of Rovers’ play saw Lola Davis, Matilda Clarkson, Nadia Stockwell, Olive Tuppen and finally Amelia Lees, record consecutive possessions before the later kicked the 2nd goal of the game.
Josh was clearly impressed with what he’d seen and set the Rovers the challenge of scoring every time they got the ball into the forward line in the ensuing quarter.
Matilda Clarkson did just that with a smartly taken goal that came off the back of intense midfield pressure from Madeline Miles, Abbey Hickey, Olive Tuppen and Juliet Moss. Then, in what can only be described as the most unselfish of team goals, an Emma Bloom probing kick was followed by a trio of handballs started by Lily McEniry and also involving Tess Ilcyznski’s. Final recipient Vivienne Buckley did not disappoint, scoring her first goal of the season. Nor did Rovers’ Goal umpire James Hewlett who, in a breakthrough performance, signalled the goal with all the flair of a stage magician.
As the Saints swung onto a period of concerted attack courtesy of a strong tail wind, Ava O’Keefe muscled up on defence with heavy tackles and a rip, Matilda Brown kicked the ball long out of trouble and a Jessica Hart touch reduced a likely goal to a behind.
Undeterred, the opposition quickly followed up with two goals and the fight back was on.
At half time, Josh highlighted the importance of dominating territory but of greater significance Rovers Team Manager, Kylie Jones, was issued a stern warning by officials that later games were now being delayed due to the home side taking too long to get back on the field at the resumption of each quarter. Suggestions that the delays were being caused by the Rovers’ Umpire Escort seem unfair to this observer but appeared to be the sideline consensus.
As the second half began Madeline Miles unleashed the first of a barrage of kicks into the forward line. Ava O’Keefe and Tess Ilcyznski clocked more possessions and Bianca Stewart found herself on the end of an accurate Lily Jones kick which she promptly turned into a goal, bringing the Rovers’ fans back to life.
This was soon equalled by a St Peters goal. With the ball back in Rovers possession, some clever shepherding from Madeline Miles enabled Nadia Stockwell to run a distance and send the ball back into the Rovers’ forward line where Matilda Brown added a behind to the score line.
A painful looking injury to Lily Jones, who hopefully won’t be out for too long, saw the Rovers rotation swing into effect late in the quarter.
With a potential fine looming, Josh delivered the briefest of 3 quarter time instructions but sometimes less is best and a brace of last quarter goals to Juliet Moss and one to Amelia Lees seemed proof of this.
In addition to the goal scorers, last quarter standouts were Jessica Hart, Matilda Brown and Zoe Hewlett as the Rovers registered their highest score and biggest winning margin of the season.
Post the game and team song, Josh heralded the defensive performance that created the territory and possession to allow so many shots at goal and with a scoring shot conversion the best AFL teams would be proud of this was a display everyone involved should be very satisfied with.
Speaking of which, proud recipients of awards were Vivienne Buckley, Zoe Hewlett, Amelia Lees and Bianca Stewart.
Your report at large
Grant (Nadia’s Dad)