The penultimate round of the home and away season saw the team travel to the East Sandi Zebras home ground. For the first time this season the full squad of 19 was available meaning we would be able to rotate our guys through the bench and give them a bit of a rest after running around on the Zebra’s large ground. As has become the pattern this year, the opposition got the jump on us early. Our back line withstood a mountain of pressure led by Harry and Baxter holding strong deep in defence. Despite Mannix and Nick battling hard in the mid field eventually the Zebras were able to break through an register 2 goals before the end of the quarter.
As we kicked to the scoring end in the second quarter our mids and forwards worked well together to give us a number of opportunities. Anthony was ever reliable in the middle winning one on ones and dishing out to the likes of Jack P who was giving us plenty of run and carry. Before long the pressure became too much for the Zebras and we were able to open our account when Kieran’s forward half pressure and contested ball work was rewarded with his first goal of the season! In order to combat the larger ground the emphasis was for the boys to maintain their positions and this paid off in the middle when Finn was able to stay a kick off the play, pick up the intercept mark and get it on to Jack T who was in space further forward. This piece of play allowed us to get it forward where Eddy, who had been battling away all day, was able to chime in with a handy Goal. Not to be out done Thomas, who was dominating the air up forward, slotted a set shot after being on the end of a nice pass to finish off a 3 goal quarter comeback for the Rovers.
The third quarter once again saw the pressure ramp up on our back line. Harrison played a fantastic captains game setting the example with his intercept marks and run and carry. Sam didn’t miss a beat on his return to the team and was able to force numerous ball ups after being outnumbered in the pack. Our mids were standing tall throughout the quarter knowing how important it was to keep the ball away from the Zebras forwards. Louie and Isaac worked tirelessly to stifle their opposition numbers while Caelan pushed from contest to contest as he competed for possession.
After an even first 3 quarters we were confident our fitness would hold us in good stead in the last. Lucas set the tone as he banged and crashed into packs leaving everything out on the park. As we started to win the midfield battle, Tom provided a real presence up forward and did a great job of moving the ball on quickly when he won it. After a great week on the training track that earnt him the vice captaincy Parker gave it everything up forward as he won multiple contested possessions and created plenty of opportunities.
While we didn’t sing the song at the end of the day, I think this was one of our better games and showed how far the boys have come along. The larger grounds have been our weakness this year and while our tackling and contested ball has been our strength our improved ball movement and even team effort as everyone plays their role was fantastic to see on display.