Match Report by The Phantom:
After a first round bye last week the U14 Div 4 team were making their first appearance for the season. The day didn’t start well with news that James Hare was ill (no excuse for James’ dad Bill thou – not turning up and writing one of his Pulitzer prize winning match reports), and Benjo Wells was a call up to the Div 1 team. On top of that, live-wire Mitch Gathercole is still sidelined for a few more weeks.
Numbers were made up by some very keen U12s (Taj, Jay, Harry and Jem), as well as 2 kids from Ormond who graciously agreed to play with us.
And on top of all this, Grant Griffin was making his coaching debut with this new team. “Griffo’s” signing was an off-season coup, his footy cv full to the brim – having kicked about 3 million goals in his career across Country Victoria.
The game started in glorious sunshine with a siren so loud that it made the prospect of standing directly behind an aeroplane engine at full power seem like a good idea.
After a couple of minutes it was clear it was going to be a close game. The ball was traveling from end to end at a rate of knots. New recruit Aiden had a lot of the ball with plenty of parents wanting to know who was our No.18. Sam Palmer was winning more than his fair share of the ruck contests and Aiden, Will and Adam were regularly clearing the ball and getting it forward. Our use of the ball was just a little better than the oppositions and we managed to kick 2 goals – one to Oliver and one to Noah. Quarter time score Rovers 13 – Ormond 2.
At quarter time parents were seen crowding around Audra Morris’ stats sheet – which showed how even a contribution everyone had produced.
The second quarter was similar to the first – a real tug of war but with plenty of open, crowd pleasing, end to end football. The mosquito fleet of U12s were doing their part but the team regulars were really standing up. Tommy Randall seemed to be in the back line and forward line at the same time, Harry G was all over his opponent, Ed Cassidy was playing probably the best game of the career – marking everything that came his way – and if it wasn’t markable, making a first, second and third effort to get the ball to a team mate. We managed to get one goal in the second courtesy of Sam Palmer.
Half time saw the game still evenly paused Rovers 22-3.
The boys went out to start the 3rd quarter but clearly thought it didn’t start until 3 mins had gone – as in that time Ormond slotted 2.1 and the game was alive.
But then something clicked. From that point to the end of game we kept Ormond scoreless. Fraser King, Max Morris, tackling machine Hugh Harris, Harry Griffen and Taj Hotton were unbelievable in the backline – repelling attack after attack. Sam Palmer and Tommy Randall were everywhere – using their height and speed to great affect. Not sure if Frenchy was forward or back or in the midfield but he was also popping up everywhere – seemingly gained a few yards of pace in the off season.
The midfield was getting better and better – Sam Palmer put it right down Will Tuffley’s throat twice in a minute in the 3rd quarter – Will burst our of the centre square and kicked long – the first kick ended up with his brother Harry who nailed a goal. The second via Jem Thomas into the safe hands of Ed Cassidy who kicked truly. Noah Hunt also managed another after a strong mark – making his total 3 at the end of the third quarter when the scores were 45-16.
At three quarter time the coach urged the boys on for one last big effort, as despite holding a 4-5 goal lead, the ball was moving so quickly that anything was possible.
The team responded magnificently – kicking 6.3 to 0 in the last quarter. The backs and mids were doing a truck load of work to get the forwards. Our new recruit Aiden (thanks Fraser for getting him on board) continued to be very good with hand and foot, Max Morris made 3 great defensive efforts right in front of the coaches box and Adam Doyle had the ball on a string. Despite playing 3 hard quarters and being up by a decent margin – Tommy Randall was still observed twice in the last quarter sprinting half the length of the ground to pick up a loose man!
The forwards didn’t let the hard work from the rest of the the team down with Ed, Jay, Jem and Noah working well together for a few goals. Then Noah got his second wind – after missing an easy one on the run – he handed off one to Jay, crumbed his own dropped mark to goal and then chased down a defender and bodied him off the ball and goaled again – making it 5 for the game. The Phantom has been following Hampton Rovers for some years now and it’s only the second time in about 200 games he’s witnessed a 5 goal haul!!
By the end Audra’s stat sheet had no white showing due to the number of ticks next to every players name. Impossible to name best players due to the evenness of the contribution. A great start to the season.
Final scores Rovers won 84-16.