Round 16 saw the Rovers Under 19s front up to Old Xaverians on a cold, wet and windy morning at Stradbroke Park in Kew.
It was clearly going to be a scrappy game with ground conditions very heavy and yet more rain forecast. The boys hit the ground wearing black armbands in honour of James Chilcott mother, Joanne Becker who had sadly passed away this week from Cancer. James, who is a very close friend of two U19’s players, Matt Spaziani and Toby Linnegan, who appreciated the support shown by their coaches, Team Manager & team-mates.
First quarter saw a far more even contest this time around and it became clear that Old Xav’s had added to their ‘talent’ pool. A goal to Chris Perkins and two to Ben Marron were encouraging but the extremely slippery ball and strong tackling pressure from Xavier found us struggling to make the most of our opportunities. Too many times we were second to the ball which allowed Xavier to be only 2 points adrift at the first break – a massive change from our last encounter and yet another reminder that some teams have certainly improved over the course of the season.
A few changes to match-ups around the ground drew minor improvements but overall, our lads were (again) second to the ball far too often and simply not working hard enough against a side who were already sniffing an opportunity. Chris Perkins was proving what a talent he is, providing solid drive through the middle and doing his best to set the tone of the game. Despite these efforts, we only hit the board with two majors – Ben Marron again and one beautiful set shot to Callum Dodd who was clearly enjoying playing with the lads again.
With only around a kick in it at the main break, Old Xav’s were pumped and it was clear our work rate needed to lift. Oscar Donald heeded the Coaches words and had his head over the ball at every contest – providing that hard body work needed in a scrappy game of football. Lachie Fraser was matching Oscar’s efforts everywhere on the ground and despite a lift in effort from a select few, it was clearly not a good enough effort from the team as a whole. Old Xav’s outscored us and Tom Marron was our solitary goal scorer for the quarter. A clearly annoyed Coach addressed the boys with some very plain language at the last break.
To their credit, the lads lifted the intensity significantly – a strong contested mark by Tate Gramaconi who played well all day saw him rewarded with a goal, followed by another from Tom Marron to put us back in front. Max Coughlin lifted this quarter along with Cam Morris and the ever-tough Matt Spaziani, even successfully taking on their ruckman to the Rovers supporters delight!
Tom Goldsmith was having another strong outing – hard in, particularly when the ball had gone to ground and added a goal of his own to the tally, buying us a little breathing space as the clock wound down. A final goal to Ben Marron sealed the deal and ensured the Rovers held onto second place on the Ladder and the all-important ‘second chance’ heading into Finals.
Chris Perkins got the chocolates for B.O.G with Oscar Donald, Max Coughlin, Ben and Tom Marron plus Lachie Fraser all among the voters – well done lads! Samme Raghdo and Blake Bergman were honourable mentions along with Toby Linnegan who was seemingly enjoying the difficult conditions.
The positive to take into next week is the lads ability to dial up the pressure when required but the disappointingly slow starts will need to be addressed for Finals. Up against Old Geelong next week for our last Home game for the season and the curtain-raiser for the ever-popular Dad’s match between Hampton P.S. and St.Mary’s P.S. so come down, support the Rovers and stay on to cheer the Old Boys!
Thank you again to our volunteers ; B.Young – not only does he wash the jumpers for me (they were pretty muddy this week too) he was our water runner as well, C.Perkins – Timekeeper, A.Gramaconi – Interchange Stewart, Will Morris – Runner, A.Fraser – Goal Umpire, Spaziani Family – Oranges & lollies
OLD XAVERIANS 2.3
4.4 6.5 7.6 (48)
HAMPTON ROVERS 3.2 5.6 6.6 10.7 (67)
Best: C.Perkins, O.Donald, T.Marron, B.Marron, L.Fraser, M.Coughlin
Goals: B.Marron 4, T.Marron 2, T.Gramaconi, T.Goldsmith, C. Perkins, C.Dodd