The Hampton Rovers Reserves journeyed to Oakleigh to see where we stood against one of our arch enemies over the many years. Although the Rovers were undefeated to date, it is not often an easy assignment against a usually tough and aggressive opponent.
1st quarter had a familiar start. A tough and congested start with many tackles, fumbles, stumbles and turnovers occurring as both sides strived to get their rhythm going. Plenty of handball from the Rovers had them threatening to break clear but a fumble would let the opposition back in. While some were bemoaning this as overuse, it actually threatened to break the game open but for a few misses. However it did take 10 minutes for the first goal and sadly it was to Oakleigh. Then within a minute they had their second goal. Things weren’t going to plan.
With plenty of action down back, the Rovers were under a lot of pressure but Jonesy was getting plenty of the ball on the last line while Ballard was showing he had lost none of last week’s intercept and dash across half back. There was another lull in goal scoring while the ball bounced back and forward but you could sense the Rovers were starting to gel. At the 15min mark Jacko finally got the Rovers on the board with a snap goal from the right hand forward pocket. Followed shortly after by Brighty who converted from the 40m line after a good grab. Suddenly the Rovers were getting all the centre clearances from tap outs by Broadstock. The ball was now suddenly deep in the Rovers forward line relentlessly and Nahas earned a free kick near goal to finish with their 3rd goal in a row. Oakleigh replied with a late goal to level the scores at the first break. Game on!
Oakleigh started the second term with a goal in the first minute then followed up with another to give them a handy 2 goal break. But the Rovers didn’t panic and at the 5-minute mark Stewart finally made the most of forays forward with a great snap goal in the Rovers’ deep forward pocket for their first of the quarter. Not long after Jacko marked and goaled from the 40m line and then shortly after a freakish kick off the ground by Timmons landed in Jacko’s lap to give him a second goal within minutes. Ragdo was threatening across the middle while Clarkey was getting amongst it and handballed to Jacko out of the pack who used the old banana kick to get his 3rd for the quarter. Miles was absolutely smashing the ruck contests and giving the midfielders first use of the ball. Tellingly the Rovers had 9 scoring shots to Oakleigh’s 5, the Rovers had dominated the quarter after the first couple of minutes. At the main break, it was the Rovers leading 55-41.
No slow start this time for the Rovers in the third quarter. The goals started to come more frequently. Lynchy had (released from the backline) a goal at the 2-minute mark courtesy of a high tackle free. Timmons earned a free kick for a great tackle at CHF and launched a long bomb to just clear the line. Tate had a similar shot but couldn’t quite go the distance and as all the defenders focused on Jacko, Vella crumbed the ball and goaled from a couple of meters out. The mid fielders were now dominant, and Vella had his second goal in a minute following a beautiful hit up from Merlo. There was a lull in goals for a while until Bright snagged one and then Jacko who got on the end of good team play from Stewart and Ragdo. Oakleigh managed just one goal for the quarter while Rovers had 6 with very good accuracy, to extend the lead to 47 points.
The final term got underway and the flood gates had opened for the Rovers within a minute. A good tap by Miles (in his return game after arriving back from London) to Nahas got the Rovers their first one. A great long tap forward by Miles (again) from the resulting centre bounce found Zaina free to run onto it and bombed a long shot which just cleared the defenders and rolled through for 6 points. From the centre bounce it was a Miles tap to Huggy and a great pass to Timmons who had the 3rd goal in the first 3 minutes. Breathtaking and game over. The Rovers scored 5 more goals for the qtr (plus quite a few points) while Oakleigh finished with 3 more in junk time. Special mentions to Merlo, Nahas, Cougs, Zaina who were on top across the middle and giving the forwards plenty of opportunities. Young showed a bit and set up yet another goal for Jacko. The Rovers had plenty of multiple goal kickers for the day but fair credit to the defenders who kept Oakleigh to a respectable 10 goals on a perfect day for footy, on a small ground.
HAMPTON ROVERS 3.3 8.7 14.8 22.12 (144)
OAKLEIGH 3.3 6.5 7.5 10.6 (66)
Goal Kickers: N. Jackson 7, M. Bright 3, B. Culvenor 3, D. Vella 3, M. Timmons 2, T. Stewart, R. Lynch, J. Zaina, Z. Raghdo
Best Players: N. Jackson, D. Ballard, B. Culvenor, M. Timmons, S. Cougan, C. Miles