The mighty Rovers assembled at Boss James Oval early on Sunday morning. The Antarctic breeze was blowing around the ground, the smell of snow in the air and a bracing 7 degrees greeted the team as they prepared to face Cheltenham. The Rovers were ready for the harsh conditions, quickly getting into their goal kicking and shaking off the cobwebs of the school holidays.
Sam had a simple game strategy for the team. Take your time for the shots on goal and make sure the backs clear the ball and kick quickly. Celebrate your gameplay and congratulate your team mates when they play well. This game was all about getting back into the swing of it after two weeks off. Josh Edmunds and Tommy Edwards were appointed Captains and led the team out into the frozen morning air.
As soon as the game started it was obvious to the team that the wind was going to cause havoc. The Rovers were ready however and Tommy E immediately cleared the ball in the middle and kicked it to the forwards. Arch completed the play by kicking the ball through for a point however there was confusion at the goal end and the score didn’t count. The team had made their point, however. They were hear to play. Cheltenham had no answers as the Rovers repeatedly ran the ball forward. Tommy kicked the ball to Tom who kicked on to Huddy up forward for the goal. Perfect execution, exactly as we trained for before the holidays. Tommy and Owen piled on the pressure in the midfield to keep the ball from the Cheltenham forwards.
During quarter time Sam had some advice for the team. The forwards were spending too much time deep in the field. Too close to the goals. They needed to come forward a bit to create opportunities. The marking was great and the skills were on show from the team. Well done! The team was pumped that they had created the “Great wall of Hampton” across the midfield. The next quarter was going to be hard, Sam warned, as the wind would be working against us.
Cheltenham obviously had a massive pep talk at the quarter. They ran forward immediately. The Rovers backs were tested right away with Hudson defending very well. Hudson prevented several sneaky goals and cleared the ball quickly in the last line of defence. Poppy and Hudson worked very hard to clear the ball to Owen who was trying to get the ball back to the forwards but the wind was making it really hard. Fraser was working very hard to make sure the ball got to Huddy up front but the Cheltenham defence was very strong. Hunter had a sensational run into the wind with several metres gained and there was an incredible punch out in defence from Tommy B which resulted into a last minute run forward but the siren sounded before the team could have a kick.
During the break the team really tried to warm up. The wind was picking up and the air felt colder than before. Sam called out the great efforts from Hunter and Tommy B. He asked the team to keep their eye on the footy and watch how the wind is making it harder. The forwards need more space. Sam said to be more attacking, kick the ball higher and kick for distance.
The wind was clearly stronger now. Hunter up front kicked the ball long and high exactly as Sam had asked. Cheltenham were strongly attacking but Poppy and Hannah just dominated with intensity in the back. A great passage of play saw Hudson clear the ball off the back line and up to Fraser who passed it on to Tommy really quickly but the Rovers just couldn’t get the ball forward. Hudson stopped several sneaky goals up the back with Elijah moving to the forward line to create some goal opportunities. Hannah really stepped up the pressure in the middle and caused issues for Cheltenham.
At the break the team was told they were spending far too much time kicking to the left and getting stuck in a narrow field where Cheltenham could take advantage. Some super inspiring stuff from Coach Sam about rising to the occasion and getting the job done had the team pumped for the final quarter.
Josh kicked the ball straight to Jack and there was great clearing from Hunter with a thumping kick forward got the ball back to the Rovers forwards. Jack, Harvey and Tommy had some sensational pressure in the midfield and caused real issues for Cheltenham who once again struggled to adapt their game plan to the excited Rovers. Carter and Arch were magic in defence and an inspiring set of play from Hudson kicking to Carter and into the midfield really took Cheltenham by surprise. Carter shocked everyone with an epic smother and Harvey was sensational with his tackling. Fraser tried hard to get the ball forward but the siren came just as the Rovers were coming back.
The game was cold, and hard but the team learned about how the wind can make a real difference to the play. A shout out from the Cheltenham coach to Tommy and his efforts in the midfield was great to hear. Wonderful praise from the other coach and a great honour for Tommy. Great game Rovers! Time to get warm!