Our first big game at the Hampton Rovers home of football. Boss James was in ideal condition for our early game after a bitterly cold and wet week of weather, which saw us skip training to keep the boys in cotton wool for the game. The East Malvern Knights were our challenge for the week.
Xavier and George had the honour of leading the team as our captains today. Xavier has been unavailable to play for the past few weeks, so was great to have his natural leadership presence and footy skills back on the ground. George is always hard working, both at training and on gameday and uses his strength and capability well to influence the game.
This week, we wanted to pick up on the momentum from the way we finished last week’s game. The boys had found space, moved the ball quickly, and drove the ball forward at every opportunity. We spoke about the importance of getting off to a good start and sustaining that for the rest of the game, ensuring we keep our focus on the ball, and the game, for the entire 60 minutes – not necessarily easy for a group of U8s to do!
Xavier got straight into it in the first quarter, gaining the first advantage for the Rovers. Liam M got to the ball and moved it quickly forward to Darcy who went hard and found Charlie H who got us off to a fantastic early goal. Lewis was racking up the hard ball gets and applying a lot of tackling pressure on the Knights, with plenty of help from Felix and Charlie Q who were able to do the same and keep the ball inside our 50. Harvey, Lachie and Kieran used their talk to gain possession and were able to find Darcy who was clear, and he snagged a great goal. Marlon was making a lot of play up forward, always keen to get amongst it. He provided a number of leading options and was able to get on the end of a good mark and went back and kicked truly. A fantastic first quarter to start.
In the second, the Knights responded hard with some great attacking play, catching our backline off guard, which got their scoreboard ticking over. Johnny and Toby lifted and were running strongly to put pressure on the Knights forwards by applying good tackles to stem the flow. This allowed Lachie and Harvey space to rebound and push the ball back in our favour. George took a great mark and moved quickly to drive into the forward line, but we found it tough to score. There was some great contests between both teams and some nice flowing play from both Tom and Charlie Q, and Harrison K and Freddie who linked up with some nice marking, playing on, and good handball usage to create flow in our game.
Harrison N and Darcy started off the third with some strong marking across the backline and in the middle. They both found Marlon who was finding plenty of footy and taking on the opposition at every opportunity. He was able to get a number of inside 50s to give our forwards a chance. Up forward Spencer was focused on the footy and ran hard to give himself a chance at the goals – he found himself out of position but made the team play and fed it to George who celebrated by getting a captain’s goal. Liam H always seems to find another gear when he gets in sight of the goals, so when Harrison got a quick ball up forward and found Liam in space, he was super to happy to kick one through.
In the last, Liam M was controlling the midfield helping move the ball forward, but also dropping back to cover in defence. Tom was ably assisting and put in some strong chasing and tackling. The contest tightened up with both sides finding it hard to break clear to give the goal umpires any work to do. Kieran and Charlie lead and chased hard to create opportunities up forward, but the Knights were applying strong defence to shutdown their attacks.
It was a spirited game played with plenty of passion, skill and endeavour. The boys really stuck to our game plan and saw them contribute well as a team.
I asked our captains if they were good with the words to lead the song. George quickly said – you bet! – whilst Xavier was bit unsure after missing a few weeks – but as soon as they got started, their team mates joined in to support them, just as they had all day on the field.
Steve Hart – Coach