Hampton Rovers defeated arch-rivals Oakleigh by 40 points in the final home game of the season, maintaining second position on the ladder with one round remaining.
In perfect conditions at Boss James Reserve, a strong crowd was on hand to witness the latest instalment of the rivalry that has grown over recent years. As always it was a fierce contest with players from both sides going in hard. It was all on the line for the Krushers who needed to win to keep their finals hopes alive.
Oakleigh started strongly kicking the opening two goals of the game before Hampton got on the board after 15 minutes through Jack Toouli then Stuart Burggraaff. Leading goal kicker Ed Turner was hit hard in the opening minutes and was taken out of the game which was a blow to the home side. The Rovers had a poor first term but found themselves down by only two points at the first break. Coach Guy Martyn urged his chargers to lift.
It was the visitors who again had the ball early in the first, with a quick goal. Hampton then took some control of the game, holding Oakleigh goalless while kicking four including one on the siren to increase the Rovers lead to 15 points at the main break. Jesse Donald had plenty of the goal and kicked two and Jack Toouli was in it again and had three to half time. Josh Verlin was the main target up front with no Turner and was presenting well.
The third term was neck and neck with Hampton only increasing their lead by a goal. Scoring was low with both backlines dominating. The loss of Charlie Kelso to Sandringham pre-game was felt by the team. Fletcher moved from the midfield up front and had immediate effect kicking two goals. At the final change, the Rovers held a 21-point lead.
It wasn’t until the final quarter that the Rovers took charge and the visitors became frustrated with Hampton’s dominance. Some of the delivery from the midfield was the best we’ve seen this season by the boys. Josh Verlin marked strongly and kicked truly on several occassions. Seven goals to four in the last gave the Rovers a strong 40-point victory over their rivals and extinguished any hope Oakleigh had of making the top four.
The performance of the younger players was again impressive with Jack Toouli kicking four goals and named in the best along with Christian Carnovale. Josh Verlin was best for the Rovers, also kicking three goals while Stuart Burggraaff and Jesse Donald kicked two each. Jesse Lovig and Josh McPherson also had good games.
Next week the Rovers travel to Old Camberwell in the final round of the home & away season. A win is needed to ensure Hampton finishes in second position on the ladder and has the double-chance in the finals. Third-placed Monash Blues face Oakleigh at Scammell Reserve. Marcellin will finish top and Parkdale Vultures are locked in fourth position.
HAMPTON ROVERS 3.3 7.6 11.7 18.10 (118)
OAKLEIGH 3.5 4.9 7.10 11.12 (78)
Goal Kickers: J. Toouli 4, J. Verlin 3, S. Burggraaff 2, J. Donald 2, M. Care, C. Sharp, N. Taylor, A. McNeil, N. Smith, J. McPherson, L. Fletcher
Best Players: J. Verlin, J. Toouli, J. Lovig, A. McNeil, J. McPherson, C. Carnovale
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The final home game Luncheon of the year was another big one with some 80 people in attendance, despite some sore heads following Friday’s Domino Luncheon. It was great to see many past players in attendance from past era’s including Brownlow Medallist Ross Smith.
The Reserves had an impressive display, defeating fifth-placed Oakleigh by 37 points. The win was the Rovers fifth of the season. Tim Jones, Adam Power and Sam Dalton were best while Germain Ivanka and Cain Malthouse kicked two goals each. Great to see Jay Dillon back in action after missing most of the season due to injury while Ned Fallon was due to make his Rovers return but was a late call-up to the Sandringham Zebras development team.
The Thirds travelled to TH King Oval to take on ladder-leaders St Kevins and suffered a heavy defeat. Vincent Camera was best for the Rovers while Will Lingard kicked the only goal. Good to see Jackson Ward having his first run of the season after work committments took priority this year.
The Under 19s did it easy against Old Haileybury, getting up by 87 points. The win is the Rovers eighth in a row and they also have one round remaining before finals. With leading club goal kicker Campbell Jones missing due to injury, Corey Jones stepped up and kicked six goals. Mackie Robertson chipped in with four and Harry Hodges three. Toby Sullivan was named best on ground.