Rovers knock over Haileybury

Hampton Rovers produced their best performance of the year with a dominant 33-point victory over second-placed Old Haileybury at Boss James Reserve on Saturday.

It was a great day with around 90 in attendance at the Luncheon including a host of past players, the women’s team and a juniors table, the famous half-time “Reggies” and a huge turnout for post-match drinks that went well into the night.

The impressive display was helped by the inclusion of three of our players from Sandringham Zebras – Richard Atkins, Nathan Smith and Luke Verma. Were they solely the difference? Two of the three, plus Nick Pavlou (who was unavailable this week due to injury), played earlier in the year yet the boys failed to defeat Old Camberwell. This time around, it was an improved performance across the board with the Sandy boys adding some polish.

It was no doubt our best start for the year and with goals to Cam Hetherington, Ant Folino and Sam Clements, the Rovers had control of the ball and were playing hard, aggressive footy giving Old Haileybury no time and space.  Adam McNeil, enjoying time and space at half back and Fletch just doing what he has done in the previous 200 games were always onto the errant opposition kick forward.

Hampton started the second with a free to Nate Smith whose bullet like pass hit Sam Bradford, who goaled, followed shortly after with a mark and goal to Nate after some great play by the defenders to give him the opportunity.  At one stage in the quarter, Hampton were six goals up and the opposition was all at sea.  It was the lone effort of the opposition’s full forward who brought them back into the game.  Both Luke DeVille and Josh Pavlou had been doing a great job on their opponents but with the ball flowing more freely forward, their big bloke snatched a couple of marks for goals.

The quarter was topped off when Richard Atkins, on the run from halfback, took a bounce, a baulk and from 50m let fly with the trusty left foot to just sneak it in for a goal.  The boys were going hard with their tackling ferocious – Carny and Fletch at the fore but the grit and determination shown by Prosser, Traegs and Zac Donald at the ball and their opponents was sensational.  Big Charlie Thorpe in the ruck was winning the taps.

The Rovers held a 15-point lead at the main break however it wasn’t time to relax with the boys having been run over in the second half plenty of times this year.  The third quarter was all Hampton.  Goals to Oscar Roberts, sharked from a good tap from Sam Clements, Sam Bradford on the run from 45m helped by a great shepherd from the skipper, Luke Verma from outside 50m and in a great play with Bradford to Clemo to Hetherington who took the big mark and kicked truly.   The scoring then stopped halfway through the quarter and it became an arm wrestle.

32 points up at the final break and the large contingent of Rovers supporters were confident the boys were home.  When Speedy popped through the first two goals of the last quarter it was game over but the boys kept fighting it out.  Unfortunately, we weren’t rewarded on the scoreboard and in the last 20 minutes of the term managed eight, yes eight behinds to the OHA’s 3 goals straight.  Fantastic to see the young Rovers lift with the inclusion of the Sandy boys and combine to have a great win against who we thought would be a formidable opposition.

Unfortunately, other results didn’t go our way with Old Camberwell and Old Mentonians both winning, therefore the Rovers remain two games and percentage behind those two as well as Old Ivanhoe. Still mathematically possible to starve off relegation but it will be tough. This week, the Rovers take on Old Camberwell away at Gordon Barnard Reserve.

HAMPTON ROVERS  3.2  7.2  11.5  13.13 (91)
OLD HAILEYBURY  1.4  4.5  5.9  8.10 (58)
Goal Kickers: S. Bradford 2, C. Hetherington 2, O. Roberts 2, J. McPherson, C. Carnovale, R. Atkins, L. Verma, A. Folino, S. Clements, N. Smith
Best Players: A. McNeil, A. Folino, C. Carnovale, S. Clements, L. Cairns, S. Bradford

Watch the full match replay >

The Reserves again turned it on for the Rovers’ lunch crowd.  Playing in a game that would determine the makeup of the finals, the score seesawed through the game right up until the end.  The Rovers had been in control, but Old Haileybury controlled the footy in the final term and with five minutes remaining, went in front by one point and seemingly on their way to victory. However, the Rovers didn’t let up, and responded with three goals in quick succession to win by 17 points.

Coach Anton Duddy described the ball movement as the best for the year where the passes, whether by hand or foot, were on target.  The tone of the day was set by Nick Murnane when in the first half he kicked two goals, both classic front and centre at the fall of the ball.  Rory Lynch continued his good form and his intercept marking and rebound from defence was some of Rory’s classic work from the premiership years.  Tim Jones played up forward and kicked three goals for the day.  Shem Curry hard and tough in the midfield was his usual in and under self and provided plenty of drive from the centre.  Darcy Merlo was solid on his wing and big Ben Theodore was an immovable object in the rucking contests all day.

The Under 19 firsts were up amongst it at South Road Oval, taking on an Old Brighton side loaded up with APS players. The Tonners got the jump in the first term and controlled the game, running out comfortable winners.

Still, there were many bright spots.  Matty Rieniets put his goal kicking boots on in the last quarter and popped through 3 goals, big Josh Broadley played well in the ruck all day and clearly had control of those contests.  Sammy Gall was our best on the day and whether at half back or in a tagging role his hard work at the ball and his opponent was fantastic.  Joel Bowditch on the wing was showing his class and as usual Steve Raymer at full back was a rock in defence and played well under extreme pressure all day.  The stand in skipper, Harrison Crisp put in another good game as did Cooper Watson and Tom Sharry.

The U19 seconds started the triple-header at the Boss, kicking-off at 9:20am against De La Salle. A hard tough contest to half time where the Rovers managed to match it with the second placed side in the competition.  In the third quarter the DLS boys fired up and with seven scoring shots, managed to open a 23 point gap.  The question was going to be could we breach it in the last?

Cam Cullis was playing a blinder at full back and despite this still managed to pop through a goal on the day!  Corey Jones kept up his consistent goal kicking and banged through another 3 to make it 23 for the season, just one behind the overseas traveller Will Wood, who spent the second half on Saturday in defence – not much help in building his goal tally!

With Tom Marron and Will Bowden controlling the wings and our midfielders on top in the last quarter, the scoreboard finally started to tick over and the gap was reduced.  With Daniel Terjung kicking two goals and big Romain in control in the ruck we looked like we were in with a chance but it just slipped away.  The coach, Sam Care, while disappointed after the game, was confident that the boys would make the finals. He made special mention of the great games that his key defenders Ash Hoar and Cum Cullis had played.

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