The top two teams went head-to-head at Boss James Reserve on Saturday with the game of the season living up to all expectations. The Rovers staged a late comeback to take the lead with under a minute remaining however a goal to Oakleigh gave the top side the win in a fiery game.
Photo by Berk McGowan
Click Here for more
It was a big day for the Hampton Rovers Football Club. Summer-like conditions greeted all at Boss James Reserve and a huge crowd was in attendance for the blockbuster clash. Over 70 people attended the pre-game luncheon with special guests media personality Shawn Cosgrove and MP Andrew Robb.
The Rovers knew a win would assure them second spot on the ladder and a double chance in the finals while Oakleigh were looking to turn around the round 9 result in which Hampton won by 3 points at Scammell Reserve.
Oakleigh won the toss and kicked with the aid of a solid 5 goal wind to the David Street end in the opening stanza. Hampton dominated play early and managed to hold the away side to just the 3 goals while kicking the equivalent to be down by just a point at quarter time.
The second term produced more of the same however with the wind the Rovers managed to kick 4 majors with Oakleigh adding just the one to their total. At the main break, it was the Rovers up by 31 points.
The Rovers had outplayed Oakleigh in the first half but they knew they had to hold them in the third term to make a win a reality. This unfortunately wasn?t the case as Oakleigh showed off their strong running-game managing to boot 7 goals while the Rovers were held goalless against the wind. The game got fiery on the siren with a Rovers player coming off the ground with a bloody nose and up to 4 Oakleigh players going in the umpires book.
Rovers coach Gary Sheldon spurred his chargers on and told them to do it for Gary Carr who played his 150th senior game for the club. Hampton squandered many opportunities in the final term kicking 8 behinds with more out of bounds on the full. Both sides managed a goal each early however the Rovers didn?t look like winning. However late in the game, memories of the amazing come from behind win over Bulleen Templestowe came flooding back as the Rovers kicked 2 quick goals.
The next ball-up the Rovers got it out of the centre again getting the ball to Leigh Fletcher who weaved his way around the opposition and converted putting the Rovers up by a single point sending the big Rovers crowd wild. However just as quick, the minor premiers got the ball up their end resulting in a classy goal and giving them back the lead.
With just seconds remaining in the game, the Rovers got the ball back down to the David Street end with Jason Zampaglione taken out in a marking contest in front of goals. Despite calls for a free kick from the Rovers faithful, it didn?t come and the final siren blew.
In another thriller between the two teams, Oakleigh got up on this occasion, winning 13.16.94 to 11.23.89. The inaccuracy of the Rovers costing the game and an obvious concern heading into the finals.
Goal kickers for the Rovers were Jason Zampaglione 3, Matthew Lawrence 2, and singles to Mark Devereaux, Leigh De Boer, Leigh Fletcher, Anton Duddy, Anthony Browne, Brenton Holt.
With Old Mentonians winning their game, the Rovers slip to third on the ladder at the end of the home and away season. Next week, the Rovers face Prahran who they defeated by 14 points last week.
Due to the VFL giving Sandringham a home final on Saturday, the VAFA D1 Finals schedule has been slightly adjusted. Both games will now be held on Sunday with the Rovers v Prahran clash at Weatherall Road Reserve in Cheltenham while Oakleigh will play Old Mentonians at Trevor Barker Oval.
The Reserves had a disappointing end to their season. After looking good for the finals, they were outclassed by Oakleigh. Best players for the Rovers were Wheeler, Smith, Constantinou, Verlin, Ng and Henry. Gray, Cooper, Verlin and Fisher kicked a goal each.
The Under 19s had a strong finish to the home and away season with a 15 point win over third-placed Monash Blues. The win sees Hampton finish second on the ladder and sets up a semi final clash against Mazenod next Friday night at Elsternwick Park. Jason Giasoumi led the goal kicking with 4, Morecroft kicked 3, White 2, and singles to Innes, Ross, Schmitz and Sinclair. Best for the Rovers were Morecroft, Law, Ward, Ross, Giasoumi and Batt.
Click Here for photos from the game.