Rovers : 8.8.56 def Hawks 4.6.30
Goals : Lucas.R (3), Marco.G (2), Lucas.C (1), Josh.E (1), Jack.G (1)
“Under the shadows of VFL Park I stand,
A leather Sherrin in my hand …”
With apologies to the Australian Cricket team, and Henry Lawson before them, it’s always a spiritual journey back to coach Mike’s childhood when we head-out to play the Waverley Hawks, just down the road from VFL Park. We had played the Hawks in D5 during the grading rounds, and had beaten them handily. However, they had recently been regraded into D4 and were showing good form, so we knew that we were in for a quality contest.
The game started inauspiciously, with the Rovers only able to field 17 players, but we knew that reinforcements were on the way. So when we won the toss, we chose to kick with the wind in order to minimize the impact of playing one fewer. The Rovers began strongly, and with the aid of a decent wind, were able to apply scoreboard pressure on the Hawks from the get-go. After a quarter of hard-nosed football, the Rovers were a goal or so in front.
The Hawks took advantage of the wind in the second quarter, with good positioning of their players and long kicks from defense. With the addition of players to the Rovers’ bench, we were able to maintain our competitive efforts across the ground, but the Hawks played the wind better, catching-up on the scoreboard to keep the game close.
In the third, the Rovers faster legs and creative football began to turn the game. With the midfielders building an effective wall across half-forward, the Rover’s forward players applied excellent pressure on the opposition to keep the ball locked inside our forward 50. Unfortunately, our wayward kicking meant that we could not maximize the scoreboard pressure on our opponents.
So far this season in D4, our final quarters have been our undoing, either running out of legs, or players, or both! But today would be different. At the 3 quarter time huddle, we talked about what we are good at, and that was running (one player said “dancing”, hmmm). Against the wind, the Rovers played our best quarter of the game, equaling the Hawks in goals for the term. The defense was outstanding, with our team-first approach in protecting our goal and clearing to advantage. In the end, the Rovers were handy winners of a well contested game played in the right spirit by both teams.
- Jack G starring in the forward line, running up the field to provide an option then doubling-back to the goals
- Mac playing his first game as the primary ruck, from the first bounce to the final siren, given the Rovers excellent contests in the air and on the ground
- Heath D and Christian B playing miserly defensive football, giving-up nothing to the opposition, working hard out of defense and booming kicks into the midfield
- Lucas R dominating the air in the forward line, and kicking truly to put the Rovers further ahead
- Jensen S winning the contested ball and barging through tacklers to push the ball forward
- The best half-back switch so far this season: Christian B -> Oli H -> James M -> Marco
- Marco G’s hard running at the football and second effort for a courageous goal
- Mitch T taking a strongly contested mark then kicking long into the forward line, and his brother Harry tackling ferociously
Things we did well
- playing one short. With limited numbers at the first bounce, we were able to remain competitive despite 1 short in the forward line.
- ball movement against the wind. The Rovers played smart footy, running with the ball, and working together in packs, then kicking low into the wind.
- running-out the game. After a few games where our opponents have taken the upper-hand in the second half, we were able to keep running and apply scoreboard pressure to the end of the game.
Room for Improvement (RFI’s)
- picking-up the ball. In U13s there isn’t is a penalty for kicking off the ground. As a result, we sometimes kick off the ground as the first option, whereas we should be considering it only as the last option. It’s not a high percentage play, so unless we are under the pump, we need to pick up the ball and take possession.
- playing the conditions. With a strong wind in one direction, our forwards and backs need to position themselves relative to their opponent in accordance to the wind direction. This was an issue in Q2 but we tightened-up for Q4.
- kick away from talls. We are a smaller running side, so we need to avoid kicking into lanes dominated by taller opposition.
And if you head-out to play the Hawks at Columbia Park in the future, take a moment to drive to VFL Park, stop the car in front of the old Sir Kenneth Luke Stand, and take-in the detailed mosaic of VFL legends of the past. Inspirational.
Coaches Mike & David