Hampton Rovers defeated Oakleigh by 33 points on Saturday to advance to the Grand Final and secure promotion for the club back to Premier C for 2019.
It was a great day for the club at Trevor Barker Oval with the Reserves also getting over the line against West Brunswick, meaning both teams will take on Ormond in the season decider on Saturday at the same venue.
The Rovers, 2018 minor premiers, shook off the lingering effects of the previous week’s poor second semi-final performance, to run out comfortable winners against a determined Oakleigh side.
Hampton did lead at every change, but it wasn’t until mid-way through the last term that the Rovers looked in total control of the game, holding the Krushers scoreless while piling on 4.6 to secure the win and return to the club to the Premier divisions of the VAFA.
“It is just such a relief (to secure promotion),” said Rovers coach Anthony Quon. “My main aim for the year was just to get us back up and then worry about winning a grand final.
“The club was super disappointed about being relegated last year as winning six games should keep you up.
“And no disrespect to division one, but we didn’t think we were a division one side.
“This a good reward for everyone. As I said to the guys, prelim finals are for the club and grand final days are for the players.”
It was a slow start scoring wise, with Oakleigh kicking the first goal of the game after 10 minutes. The game then exploded with a further three goals in as many minutes. Carnovale out of the middle kicked truly on the run, Oakleigh responded, and Clements kicked truly. Folino and Hetherington also got on the scoresheet and at the first break, the Rovers led by four points as the rain started to fall.
The battle continued in the second term, with the Rovers extending their lead to 12 points at the main break, kicking four goals to three with Clements, Corp and Roberts amongst the goals.
The Rovers back six were holding firm. Josh Pavlou was at his rampaging best, holding Aaron Cloke to two goals in the opening half and three for the game, after he had kicked 17 in the past two weeks and 110 for the season. James Prosser was at his irritating best, Harry Crisp, cool as usual in the pocket were all restricting the opportunities of their opponents. Oscar Roberts and Matt Rieniets were solid across half back and filling the space in the Oakleigh forward line and Rich Atkins was holding sway on his flank and providing coverage of Oakleigh’s forward moves.
Our mids were back in form this week. Josh Broadley just kept jumping all day and by the final quarter, all run from the Oakleigh rucks was gone. Chief, sharing the rucking duties, was on song and used that big body to great effect. Oakleigh were forced to move their key backman into the ruck in the last quarter and that allowed Hampton’s forwards more space and time to hit the scoreboard. Ben Kneebush, given a minding role on a key mid, did the job effectively and minimized any influence he had on the game. While the skippers, Christian Carnovale and Adam McNeil, were in and under in the middle. It was a couple of the players elevated to the team that had unexpected impact. Finn McMaster gave what we missed last week – more run, Scott Ebbott, called up at 10am before the game, has great determination and his attack on the ball and the player was relentless. The other surprise was Harry Hodges, back at the Rovers this year, came in to provide pressure to the opposition and he did that to perfection.
The third quarter, where Oakleigh had the benefit of the breeze, was again a wrestle with neither side really getting on top, although the Krushers edged Hampton three goals to two to reduce the margin to just three points at the final chance. The highlight of the term being in the first 10 seconds where Broads won the tap to Carnovale who crashed through the tackle to deliver to Cam Hetherington who then gave it back to the skipper as he raced into the open goal, much to the delight of the sizeable Rovers crowd.
— Hampton Rovers FC (@HRAFC) September 1, 2018
Lachy Cairns probably had his best game for the year, running all day on his wing and kept driving the ball into the Rovers forward line. Carnovale kicked another late in the term following some great lead-up play from Scott Ebbott. Oakleigh’s forwards were getting frustrated and at three quarter time they only had 9 goals on the board which was there lowest score in the second half of the season.
Danny Corp moved forward in the last quarter and kicked the opening goal five minutes in as the Rovers supporters found their voice behind the goals. He dominated, but a few misses meant he kicked just the couple of goals in the last but it easily could have been five. The Rovers backs continued their solid work and prevented Oakleigh from getting a score on the board when they went forward. Cam Hetherington took a strong contested mark and converted and Ant Folino kicked another soon after with the Rovers in total control. The icing on the cake was Corpy’s final goal, after the siren, signalling the Rovers’ return to Premier C and a huge Grand Final match-up against arch-rivals Ormond next Saturday at the same venue.
“It was very tight and there were a lot of stoppages,” Quon said.
“Almost all the goals in the first three quarters were down to whoever won the centre clearances. It was quite amazing really in that regard.
“We went a lot smaller and quicker (balance-wise) after looking slow the previous week and those guys (the inclusions) really stepped up.”
Liam McCartney, given a big job in controlling one of Oakleigh’s key forwards, did his job and kept him scoreless, Shem Curry, back in the seniors after his recent trip, did what he had done all year and just kept putting his body into the contest. Kyle Pinto provided the link and the class to give the opportunities to our forwards. A huge turnaround from the previous week, with the Rovers back in form and all is set for a mouth-watering clash in the season decider.
“I feel the second semi-final was an aberration,” Quon said. “We just had a lot of guys who didn’t play well and this week they all played really well.
“Hopefully it was just one of those games that you have to have, we get a bit of momentum now with the win and we go again.”
Anthony Quon mentioned in the rooms after the game, the team that returned the club to Premier C is home-grown with no ring-ins – with all 22 players having come through the Rovers Juniors. Something to be exceptionally proud of.
HAMPTON ROVERS 4.2 8.5 10.5 14.11 (95)
OAKLEIGH 3.4 6.5 9.8 9.8 (62)
Goal Kickers: C. Hetherington 3, D. Corp 3, C. Carnovale 3, S. Clements 2, A. Folino 2, O. Roberts
Best Players: A. Folino, D. Corp, B. Kneebush, L. McCartney, J. Pavlou, O. Roberts
The Reserves defeated West Brunswick by 13 points to book their spot in the Grand Final. A sensational effort to bounce back after going down to the minor premiers the previous week. Read the full match report >
A huge week coming up the club with both the Seniors and Reserves playing Ormond in the Grand Final. The VAFA has confirmed both games will be played at Sandringham’s Trevor Barker Oval on Saturday. We invite all parents and supporters to the club Thursday night for Grand Final Selection Night – dinner will be put on and the bar open – details to follow. And of course, we hope the entire Hampton Rovers community can get along to the Grand Final to cheer on both teams!
Thanks to our helpers on Saturday: Jason Cave for interchange duties, the Trainers, Max Grimmer and Billy Campbell for doing the stats, Stan Oldfield for scoreboard operation, Kam Atkins for timekeeping, Daniel Anderson for Runner duties, and Edi Melnjak and Adrian Hug for running water.
PRESENTATION NIGHT: Thursday 27 September at the Brighton International. Don’t delay – purchase your tickets on the Rovers Shop now! BUY NOW >