Rovers through to Grand Final

Hampton Rovers are through to the Premier C Grand Final after defeating Marcellin by 34 points at Trevor Barker Oval. The win also secures promotion to Premier B section for 2015.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Rovers after doing the double-drop from B to D. The club now returns to B grade three seasons after departing and will be aiming to win back-to-back premierships for the first time since 1946-47.

The smell of finals was in the air and perfect sunny conditions greeted players and spectators at Sandringham’s Trevor Barker Oval which is looking a treat following its redevelopment. After the success of the U19s earlier in the morning, the Seniors were looking for their eighth-straight win and third victory over Marcellin this season. On the previous two occasions, the Rovers had defeated the minor-premiers by an aggregate of 121 points.

With Coach Guy Martyn playing, assistant Owen Lalor took the reins pre-game. The Rovers started with a rush, kicking six-straight goals all through individual goal kickers and had all the momentum. At the break the margin was 27 points and the Rovers led the tackles 20-12 and the one 1%ers, the smothers and spoils were at record levels for the year.

The momentum stopped in the second term with Marcellin back some control of the game while having the advantage of the wind. Ed Turner and Mat Care added to their first-quarter goals but the Rovers appeared to be just hanging in. At the main break the margin was 29 points however there were some worrying signs with the Eagles having more inside 50s yet still five goals down. The Rovers back six were again in fine form with Jesse Lovig taking marks, Christian Carnovale putting in his best game of the season, Rory Lynch holding firm, Adam McNeil providing the run out of defence, Josh Schmitz going in hard as he always does and Rich Atkins holding the oppositions leading goal kicker goalless.

Owen stressed the basics at the main break which had seen the Rovers successful all year and urged the boys to stick to the plan. While the wind had switched ends during the break, giving Marcellin the advantage in two consecutive quarters, it didn’t appear to be a massive advantage. While the Rovers kicked the opening goal of the term, the Eagles then took full control of the game, booting five majors unanswered in 15 minutes to surge into the lead. While Charlie Kelso was dominating in the ruck, it was the Marcellin midfielders controlling the ball in the middle and delivering it to their forward line. It was a Mat Care goal late on which handed a three-point lead back to the Rovers at the final break.

Hampton had their biggest challenge of the year ahead of them, to take back control of the game with Marcellin dominating scoring shots and inside 50s. In the opening minute, Carnovale ran from half-back and delivered to Ed Turner in the goal square who converted. Marcellin responded before Daniel Corp, in his first game back from returning overseas, kicked two in a row. The Rovers were going forward numerous times with the likes of Cam Sharp controlling midfield while the backs were totally in control. Ed Turner kicked the final major of the game, the fifth of the game for the Premier C leading goal kicker, and a celebration to match which was enjoyed by the large contingent of supporters in green & gold.

Mat Care played his best game of the season and topped it off with three goals and Danny Corp in his return game got stronger as the match progressed. With a few players pressing for selection in the season decider, it promises to be a challenge selecting the final 22 for Saturday-week.

Hampton Rovers will play the winner of next Saturday’s Preliminary Final between Marcellin and Parkdale Vultures after Parkdale defeated Monash Blues on Sunday.

HAMPTON ROVERS  6.0  9.3  11.3  16.10 (106)
MARCELLIN  1.3  4.5  9.12  10.12 (72)
Goal Kickers: E. Turner 5, M. Care 3, D. Corp 3, S. Clements, J. McPherson, S. Burggraaff, B. Traeger-Haig, A. McNeil
Best Players: C. Carnovale, A. McNeil, J. Lovig, E. Turner, M. Care, L. Fletcher

View the full match replay on VAFATV >
View the match highlights on HRTV >

The club last participated in the second-top division of the VAFA in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before a swag of departures led to two demotions in as many seasons. This time around, the playing list looks healthier with a number of quality youngers currently playing senior football and a strong under 19 team.

The Under 19s got the day off to a perfect start, defeating De La Salle in the 1st Semi Final by 31 points at Waverley Oval to advance to next week’s Preliminary Final against Oakleigh. The young Rovers have now won ten games straight. Cam Jones returned from injury and booted six goals while Mackie Robertson was best for the Rovers. Read the full match report >

Seniors scoreworm:

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