Rovers too strong for Oakleigh

The Hampton Rovers returned to the scene of the 1995 Premiership for the first time and produced one of their best results in recent times defeating 2nd-placed Oakleigh by 3 points in a thriller at Scammell Reserve.

After two strong wins, the Rovers were looking to make it three in a row, but they knew it was going to be a tough task. The condition of the ground didn?t help anyone’s cause, bringing the standard of the game down.

After observing a minutes silence for the tragic death of the University Blacks player in the Melbourne shootings, Oakleigh came out firing kicking a few goals early. The Rovers were able to kick a few of their own and at the first break, Oakleigh led by 14 points.

The second quarter was a short one, with the Rovers outscoring the hosts 3 goals to 2. At half time, the deficit was just 8 points. While there wasn?t much in the game, the Rovers weren?t playing anywhere near their best, and coach Gary Sheldon urged his players to turn it around in the second half.

While the temperature dropped at Scammell Reserve, the game certainly didn?t, with a high intensity third term. The Rovers looked an improved side and they grabbed an early lead with a couple of goals, although Oakleigh clawed back with two of their own. At the final break, they held a 9 points advantage.

All was set-up for an enthralling final quarter, and the players didn?t disappoint. The Rovers managed to snatch the lead and while Oakleigh got close, they couldn?t overpower Hampton as full-forward Matthew Lawrence kicked the match winner late in the game. At the final siren, it was the Rovers running out winners 11.11.77 to 10.14.74.

Best players for the Rovers were Leigh Fletcher, Gary Carr, Luke Dallas, Gerrard Woods, Anton Duddy and Leigh De Boer. Matt Lawrence kicked 3 goals to improve his season tally to 39. Other goal kickers were Mark Farrari and Rob Alexander with 2 each, and singles to Gary Carr, Brenton Holt, Matt Terech and Jay Ting.

The victory signals the first time since 2004 that the Rovers have won three consecutive games. It also sees the Rovers return to the top 4. The team now looks forward to Therry Penola at Boss James Reserve next Saturday. After defeating them by 201 points last time round, the Rovers won?t be looking at easing up as they search for another strong win to improve their record to 6-4 and cement their spot in the top 4.

In the Reserves, after being down by just 2 goals at the final break, the undefeated Oakleigh piled on 8 goals to defeat the Rovers by 51 points. Best for the Rovers were David Anderson, Lee Smith and Cal Donald. Nick Evans and Lee Smith kicked 3 goals each with singles to Castles, Cooper and Theodore.

The Under 19’s had a good win against Monash Blues at Boss James Reserve, getting up by 20 points. The win sees them replace the Blues in 3rd spot on the ladder. Best players were Emery Lonie, Lachie Batt, Cameron Bell, Chris Sinclair, Michael Stowe and Kyle Pinto. Jason Giasoumi led the goal kicking with 3, Nathan Morecroft, Zeke Lewis and Tom Mitchell kicked 2 each, and Lachie Batt and Emery Lonie kicked one each.

HAMPTON ROVERS  3.2  6.5  8.7  11.11 (77)
OAKLEIGH  5.5  7.7  9.10  10.14 (74)
Best: L.Fletcher, Carr, Dallas, Woods, Duddy, De Boer.
Goals: Lawrence 3, Ferrari 2, Alexander 2, Carr, Holt, Terech, Ting.

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