After a much needed two week break in warmer climates, I was excited to get back to Boss James Reserve for the big clash against much fancied Beaumaris.
Missing two key players, Eddie Peat and Dylan Grace made things tricky but we were lucky to have the support from Lincoln Sharpe & Toby Clarkson who filled in for the day. Thank you to those two boys who made a terrific contribution to the team.
With a strong and icy breeze blowing from the South Road end, it was clear from the outset goals would be hard to come by. Both teams tackled ferociously and pressured the ball carrier making clean delivery difficult. Taking the game on with quick, linking ball movement to advantage was the key message. For the most part, I thought our boys carried out that instruction well and more importantly were hard at the contest. I feel when we concentrate, when we are prepared to run and support our team mates, we are capable of playing inspired football and it is very satisfying to watch.
The first quarter started slowly with both sides adjusting to the conditions. Most of the play seemed to be on the far side, as was the strength of the wind. Beaumaris adjusted first slotting through a couple of goals to our one goal one. We matched them with endeavour, with application and I think we showed early on we were switched on for this game.
The second quarter I felt the momentum swung our way. The boys played on at times and when they did, we looked good. Encouraging them to be more attacking and to make quick decisions by moving the ball on quickly can and will occasionally bring us unstuck. However, the more we practice this – regardless of the inevitable mistakes this will cause – the quicker the boys will develop with their football I believe. The better they will be as a team, especially the more they play together. This quarter we had plenty of opportunity in front of goal and could not seem to capitalise kicking 1 goal four points but we did manage to restrict the opposition to no goals three points in some terrific defensive play. By half time we had our noses in front and looked like we had our shoulders back and chests out.
With confidence building, we changed the side around at half time to ensure everyone had exposure to different positions on the ground. Again, we had a large percentage of the play this quarter and managed only to convert 1 goal two points but kept the opposition scoreless to set up a little buffer. Run, carry and tackle pressure underpinned this quarter for the plucky Rovers who had their eyes on the prize. The wind got stronger which contributed to the difficulty in scoring goals but both sides had to fight through it and adapt.
After a quick pep talk, the boys took their positions and the game resumed. It was clear the opposition could sense the game slipping from them and came out to play. The ball zipped around and spent more time in our defensive zone. Beaumaris managed to score an early goal, after having not scored one since the first quarter. The game got tense all of a sudden! Momentum had swung to the opposition and they made the most of their opportunities. In the end we were unable to trouble the scorers in the last quarter which proved costly but what we did do was show we could compete strongly with one of the stronger teams in the advanced league, which should give the boys much confidence.
To be honest, after the South Melbourne game, which I thought was sensational, we probably dropped off in our concentration and ‘team first’ approach for the following two games against Dingley and East Brighton. Not sure why. Perhaps we got ahead of ourselves a little after such terrific performances? We were competitive in both games but were not linking up and using our team mates like previous weeks.
I will admit I was a little nervous about this one, especially after having two weeks off. But I was so thrilled overall with the way the boys played this game against quality opposition. Their fight and spirit was obvious – at no stage did they give up. The boys will have ups and downs in their footy development, and this year so far I think we have had a lot more ups than downs – I certainly saw this one as an ‘up!’
Well done boys – can’t wait to see how we tackle our next challenge against East Malvern on Sunday.