Much calmer, albeit slightly foggy conditions greeted players, coaches and parents as Hampton Rovers Maroon travelled the 15 minutes from “home” to play Cheltenham JFG on their home deck. Certainly more acceptable than driving rain and a chilly wind, many parents were saying….!
The kids were all on time (thanks parents!) and were very excited to see if they could continue the 100% win ratio as they moved into Round 2 of the season. Caitrin Moore and Charlie Ratcliffe were captains for the day, and proudly led the team onto the field.
Rohan “Sheeds” Bardwell had his first major challenge of the year, being advised by Cheltenham pre-game that they only had 16 players. Rohan handled this with aplomb, directing the Rovers team that 2 players would play for Cheltenham on a rotating basis, so that everyone would play on the ground. The kids handled this with terrific grace and those who turned their jumper inside out and played for Cheltenham did themselves, Cheltenham, the Rovers and their parents proud. Well done!
The game was played in great spirit – with Cheltenham winning the ball out of the centre more often than not and it was Diesel – playing for Cheltenham – who took a starring role in the first quarter. He kicked 2 goals and was a livewire up forward! Seb got straight into the game and was a driving force in the middle, going in hard and kicking long, while Dan and Caitrin were terrific in defence, tackling hard and leading to space to try to clear the area. Sam was in everything and throwing his body around. One of the highlights was Alex taking a great overhead mark – a sign of things to come?!!
In the second quarter – things again went Cheltenham’s way – and this time it was Charlie bashing his way through packs and clearing the ball and Arlo’s tackling that were just keeping the Rovers in the game. Seb continued his strong game, this time in defence and Harry was presenting himself as a good target in the forward line. Angus slotted nicely into the forward line and provided one of the highlight runs for the day, only just missing what surely would have been goal of the year to date!!
Half time saw Rohan get the kids to focus on manning up and looking for teammates. The Rovers responded very well, restricting Cheltenham to just the one goal for the quarter. Lucas was doing a great job in defence, repelling the opposition’s forays into their forward line and doing his best. Diesel continued his great game, taking some good marks and probably the highlight of the quarter was Will tackling the biggest player on the ground and stopping him in his tracks! Charlie was playing a great Captain’s game, as was Caitrin. Dan continued to go in hard with his tackling, with Harry and Jack providing great drive. Alex continued to battle hard, despite a sore ankle and Jason again was strong in defence.
Some great teamwork started to emerge in the final quarter, with Jack marking strongly and handballing to Harry running past, and again when Niko marked, pinpointing a pass to Jack on the lead. With time and practice, this will become the norm as the kids get used to the game. Arlo was on fire in the middle, tackling and putting strong pressure on the Cheltenham midfielders. Angus may have found his calling in defence with some strong running and reading the play a feature! In the end, Cheltenham were too strong, but the Rovers team did the club proud with their efforts – they had fun, played the game in great spirit, respected the umpires and the opposition and they never gave up! Well done Rovers Maroon!