Nothing could separate the top two sides in Division One on Saturday as Hampton Rovers and Ormond played out a thrilling draw in ideal condition at Boss James Reserve.
The match between the two oldest VAFA district clubs was an absolute arm wrestle. Six goals, 16 behinds, for each side for over 120 minutes of footy shows just how unforgiving both teams were on the day. Both sides were affected by unavailability of key players which may have impacted the quality of the game, but all 44 players still gave it their all.
It was still a great game, as many have been between the two arch rivals over the years. Less than a goal in it for most of the game but at quarter time when Ormond led by five points, having had five more scoring shots, they did have the upper hand. By half time, the Rovers had evened the ledger with goals being very hard to come by.
Sam Clements had a sensational first half with two of Hampton’s three goals in the half, he provided the target up forward and his strong leads were not always rewarded with accurate passes by his team mates up field. With Chief and Josh Broadley sharing the rucking duties, the Rovers were winning the taps but not capitalizing.
Adam Schaeche was like a mosquito buzzing around the packs, Shem Curry was in and under as usual but clearly missing his buddy in the centre, Christian Carnovale (who made his Sandringham Zebras debut) and the other mids were working hard. Down back, in his first game for 2018, Liam McCartney was taking no chances, playing it hard and close on his opponent and not giving him an inch. James Prosser and Josh Pavlou were both playing it hard and close on their opponents and not really allowing the Ormond boys any latitude.
Again, in the third the Monders took the initiative and posted 2.6 to Hampton’s 1.3. A slight breeze meant the northern end was the scoring end throughout the match. The Rovers only goal for the quarter came from one of the best pieces of play for the day. Adam Schaeche picked up the loose ball, passed to Jack Zaina who hit Danny Corp lace out, he wheeled around and put the long kick to Cam Hetherington’s advantage who kicked truly. No other significant highlights for the quarter. Good hard running from Ben Kneebush all day and Ryan Fogarty with the new helmet was throwing himself into the fray with abandon.
Hampton dominated the final term. Ormond rarely went inside 50 and their only foray forward resulted in a goal from a long bomb from the boundary line. The home side seemed to have all the play. Danny Corp worked hard for a couple of frees and finally after a day of being mauled by the opposition was rewarded with a free 20 metres out directly in front. He goaled and when Sam Clements goaled 20 minutes later, the Monders were only a couple of points up with a few minutes to play. In an exciting and frustrating final five minutes with all 36 players in the Rovers 50, Ormond managed to restrict Hampton from scoring until the last minute when a snap shot at goal was rushed through for a behind to level the scores. The final siren sounded soon after as the to signal the end of a nail-biter.
After the game, coach Anthony Quon mentioned some of the newer players to the team – Adam Schaeche, Jack Zaina, Liam McCartney and of course the Chief Michael Fletcher for their great efforts on the day.
“Given the outs we’ve got, I’ll take it. It was tough. There were a lot of stoppages, lots of tackles and a lot of pressure.”
“It was reassuring to at least break even for the day so we’ll have a (bye) week off and start again.”
While the Rovers boys were disappointed to let an opportunity for the win slip through their fingers, it was the result that Jane Barnes would have called for had she been at the game. It was a great tribute that at the awards presentation following the game, the Russell Barnes Medal was renamed the Barnes Medal in honour of the family’s close ties with both clubs. The medal was awarded to the most courageous player in the game and decided by both coaches and the umpires – the first Barnes Medal was awarded to Hampton Rovers’ Josh Pavlou – great to have Russell Barnes there to present it.
Now at the mid-way point of the 2018 season, the Rovers remain on top of the ladder – equal on points with Ormond (both with one defeat) and Preston Bullants in third, half a game behind. Following the week off, the Rovers travel to Victoria Park in Kew to face the eighth-placed Bears.
HAMPTON ROVERS 1.3 3.9 4.12 6.16 (52)
ORMOND 1.8 3.10 5.16 6.16 (52)
Goal Kickers: S. Clements 2, C. Hetherington, C. Jones, M. Fletcher, D. Corp
Best Players: J. Pavlou, J. Prosser, S. Clements, M. Fletcher, J. Zaina, L. McCartney
The Reserves had a classic six-point win to hold off second-placed Ormond and secure top spot on the ladder for the time being. Earlier in the day, the Thirds recorded a big win over Monash Gryphons to stay in second spot. Elsewhere, the U19s played well but went down to Old Brighton and the Senior Women fell just short against Ajax.