Spurred on by a large and vocal crowd who had made the trek out to the leafy Eastern suburbs, the Rovers had a nail-biting win over fourth-placed Old Camberwell. It was the second week in a row that the green and gold had prevailed by less than a kick.
Sunny, Spring-like weather greeted the players on what is arguably the largest playing surface in Amateur football. The Rovers knew their season was on the line yet again, and Old Camberwell were desperate to make amends for several losses over the previous month.
The importance of the game to the Wellers was emphasised by their Assistant Coach, ex AFL player Matthew Hogg, when he addressed the Old Camberwell faithful at the pre game Presidents Lunch.
?Watch out Hampton Rovers were his closing remarks.
His words rang true in the first half of the opening quarter as the home team rocketed to a four-goal lead. But the Rovers pegged them back with goals to talls Browne and Power, and last weeks hero, James Hanlon. While the Rovers were 16 points down at the first break, the signs were good as the green and gold had consolidated well.
The second quarter opened with a goal to the Wellers but the Rovers through Stephen Anderson replied quickly. This goal was the start of an impressive period of footy for the away team, with two goals to Adam Power who was relishing the firm conditions – a far cry from the previous weeks mudbath. State rep Garry Carr kicked another and James Hanlon slotted his second. The Wellers lifted and kicked the next two and both teams were desperate. Hard, but fair tackling characterised the second quarter and the standard of football was high – befitting two teams vying for a finals spot. Garry Carrs second goal for the Rovers just before the siren saw them go to the main break with a seven-point lead – 9.9.63 to 9.2.56.
The premiership quarter was a beauty for the Rovers with two more goals to spearhead Adam Power. Steve Gravina also relished the conditions and was picking up plenty of possessions. He was ably assisted by the youngster Devereaux who was putting his mark on the game together with Matt Lawrence. At the final break the Rovers had extended their lead to 14 points – Hampton Rovers 13.7.85 to 10.11.71.
But the game was far from over, a point firmly made on the players by Rovers coach Brett McIlwraith in his final address. He urged his chargers to maintain their work ethic for the final 30 minutes.
The final quarter was the scrappiest of the game as the unrelenting pressure took its toll on players of both sides. Mistakes crept in due as much to fatigue as anything else. With the Rovers in front by 11 points and a handful of minutes to go, the Rovers looked home. But the Wellers were not about to concede and a goal to the home team made the difference a mere five points. The unthinkable loss was a possibility as the ball remained locked in Old Camberwells forward line in the dying minutes. Several earlier missed opportunities that would have sealed the game for the Rovers were weighing heavily on spectators and players alike.
When the siren sounded to end what had been a fantastic game of football, the Rovers had again prevailed – 14.12.96 to 13.13.91.
Best for the Rovers were Stephen Anderson, James Hanlon, Matt Lawrence, Mark Devereaux, Brenton Henry and Anthony Browne.
Goalkickers: Power 5, Hanlon 3, Carr 2 and one each to S Anderson, Browne, Fletcher and Gravina.
The Rovers take on Emmaus St Leos next week at Boss James and a win could see them grab a place in the four providing the other results go our way.
The Reserves had a solid win in a hard fought game. The win sees them cement their top of the ladder position as they continue their inexorable march to finals action in September.
As always, the under 19s battled hard, but Ormond proved too strong.