Hampton Rovers announced their return to Premier B section of the VAFA with a convincing 69-point victory over Mazenod at Boss James Reserve on Saturday.
It was a big day at Boss James Reserve with around 75 people at the opening home game luncheon of the year and the premiership flag unfurled by club legend Max Grimmer prior to the main game.
In perfect conditions and in front of a big crowd at the Boss, the Rovers controlled the contest from quarter time onwards to record the perfect start to the new season. It was tight early with the Rovers having a couple of chances but it was Adam McNeil who kicked the first of the game after nine minutes. Heath Black’s men responded immediately but the home side despite having twice as many scoring shots, held a ten point lead at the first break. The highlight of the quarter was without doubt, Sam Bradford’s weaving run from half back, four bounces and hitting Martyn lace out for a goal.
— Hampton Rovers FC (@HRAFC) April 11, 2015
Hampton kicked with the wind in the second term and really turned it on with Richard Atkins and Nathan Smith the standouts. Axe dominated the clearances from half back and youth Smithy eluded the opposition and showed plenty of pace, kicking a couple of goals with another couple of assists. Meanwhile Corp, Marto and Robbins were causing the Nodders backs plenty of problems. The Rovers kicked nine for the term in a display that must have impressed the large Rovers crowd in attendance at the Boss. At the main break the margin was 36 points.
The third quarter was an arm wrestle. Rich Atkins was forced off to get stitches after a badly cut head from friendly fire and the Rovers were down to two on the bench in the last with Nathan Smith also having to get attended to following a cut to the head. Hampton kicked three goals to one but the thing that pleased the coach most was the 28-12 tackle count. The Rovers took it right up to Mazenod and they struggled with the pressure.
Mazenod kicked the first goal of the final term but from then on it was all Hampton. Jesse Donald kicked a couple of quick goals from Bradford passes, followed by goals to Ned Fallon, Marto and another new recruit Kyle Docherty from a strong mark. The back six were ever-reliable with Jesse Lovig and Rory Lynch the standouts.
While the Rovers form was patchy at times, the pace of the side was outstanding and proved a huge advantage. The backline continued their good form from previous seasons while up front, Guy Martyn led the way with five goals and Nathan Smith capped a best on ground performance with four majors.
The debutants in the side – Kyle Docherty, Matt Robbins, Sam Bradford & Sam MacGregor, along with Ned Fallon & Lachlan Cairns who played in their first senior win, all contributed well to the 69-point victory.
There’s no easy games in Premier B and the next three weeks will give a clearer indication where the Rovers are at. Next week it’s a short trip to face St Bedes/Mentone Tigers who were relegated from Premier Section followed by a huge ANZAC Day clash at the Boss against another relegated side and arch rival Old Brighton, then it’s the flag favourites St Kevins.
HAMPTON ROVERS 4.6 13.11 16.15 21.17 (143)
MAZENOD OC 3.2 8.5 9.8 11.8 (74)
Goal Kickers: G. Martyn 5, N. Smith 4, J. Donald 2, A. McNeil 2, M. Robbins 2, J. Ting, E. Turner, N. Fallon, K. Docherty, D. Corp, S. MacGregor
Best Players: N. Smith, J. Lovig, G. Martyn, L. Fletcher, S. Bradford, J. Ting
Match Highlights to follow | View Photos on Facebook >
In the early game, the Reserves put in a good performance under new coach Anthony Quon, they looked a much improved side from last year and at the main break held a nine point lead. However in the second half Mazenod showed they were the fitter side and began to take control and eventually ran out 32 point winners. Chris Long and Josh Pavlou kicked two goals each while Dave Morton, Ben Kezilas and Josh Pavou were best for the Rovers.
The Under 19s are up in a higher division this year after winning the flag last year and travelled to Essendon in round one to face St Bernards. And it was a top-shelf performance by the boys, kicking off 2015 with a 64-point victory.
New player Tom Nicholls started the season with a bag of goals as did Cam Jones with six each which meant the Rovers dominated up forward. New Captain Ryan Fogarty was strong through the middle as was Ollie Sweetapple-Gagiero. Down back Jack Stewart continued on his fine form of 2014 and new player Jason Klein, up from the juniors, did some clever clearance work from defence.
Overall, coach John Cesario said it was a great hit out for the team particularly where there were so many new players who were not all that familiar with the game plan.