Rovers : 5-7-37 Drew Cheltenham 5-7-37
Goals : Civitarese (1), Howell(1), Giampa(1), Giblin(1), Petris(1)
The final grading game promised to be an “epic battle”, in the words of our esteemed Team Manager. Peter was right on the money, as the game promised to be a cracker. Cheltenham came into the game unbeaten with a percentage of 700%, while the Rovers were also unbeaten, but with less gaudy stats.
The first quarter began with Cheltenham pushing forward, with their bigger players dominating possession. The Rovers adjusted quickly, focusing on slick handballs out of danger then using their legs to outrun the opposition. When the ball was up for grabs, the Rovers swarmed around, looking to gain possession or lock-down the opposition. Despite the skill of both teams, the defenses were on-top, and the Rovers held a 2-to-1 goal advantage at the quarter break.
The second and third quarters carried-on in a similar vein, with pressure on the ball carrier applied by both sides. The Rovers showed plenty of dash and skill, with linking handballs and precision kicks to advantage. Neither team could break clear on the scoreboard, but the Rovers held a slight advantage throughout.
With the support of their team-mates from the D1 team watching on, the Rovers played desperate football in the final quarter. Despite Cheltenham’s advances, the defense locked-down and rebounded well. A late goal had the Rovers up by 7, but Cheltenham worked hard to get the ball back into their forward line, pressing hard and evening the scores late in the game. With the final siren sounding, the scores were tied. It was a fitting end to an epic battle.
- Oli A’s inspirational ruck work against (much) bigger opponents throughout the game. And once the ball hit the deck, he played as an extra midfielder. His best game for the Rovers, by far.
- Nick K hugging the boundary and scooting around the opposition to clear from defence, over and over again.
- James McN’s intensity at half-back, with clearing kicks and a number of outstanding tackles.
- Ethan P’s don’t argue in the forward line, using strength and momentum to beat his opponent.
- Oli H performing the switch across half-back and kicking to advantage, then following-up with an effective shepherd that released Billy for a big run into the forward line.
- Lucas C and Jack C playing despite injury clouds, contributing with a goal (Lucas) and shut-down defence (Jack).
- Xavier G bursting from half back and through the square, kicking deep into the forward line.
Things we did well
- full ground pressure. From full back to full forward, every player applied pressure on their opponent at each contest.
- nullifying the talls. The opposition tall players were imposing, but were kept largely in-check by our close attention. It’s impossible to keep them out of the game completely, but our players did a great job despite the height disadvantage.
- rebound from defense. Our half-back to half-forward lines ran hard all day to clear from defense and set-up scoring opportunities.
Room for improvement (RFI’s)
- defensive measures. Our pressure across the ground was impressive, but we lacked a bit of polish on key defensive skills, such as spoiling, smothering and tackling. This will be a focus at this week’s training (and training to come).
- non-preferred disposal. In high intensity games, there is less time to dispose of the ball. We’ve got to work on our mechanics and confidence in handballing and kicking on our non-preferred side.
- timely attendance. With around 30 minutes before game time, we only had 12 players in the warm-ups. We were already struggling with injuries and this additional uncertainty was not conducive to good game preparation. Parents, we’ve got to do better to get our kids to the game on time, 45 minutes before the first bounce. As always, latecomers ride the pine in Q1.