After finishing second on the ladder, the Rovers Under 19s faced up against Glen Eira/Old McKinnon on their home turf on Saturday, with the winner progressing straight to the Grand Final.
A sunny but windy day greeted the teams at Packer Park in Carnegie, in what we were hoping to be a closer contest than our last meeting.
The boys were up and about but Glen Eira’s ruckman, with his enormous reach was creating plays for them right from the first bounce. Our Defenders had to work hard as the ball found its way repeatedly into the opposition’s forward line, assisted by a heavy breeze at their backs. Thankfully the majority of these entries resulted in just minor scores, but it was clear Glen Eira’s structure around the stoppages was far more disciplined and they’d clearly brought a very ‘physical’ brand of football to the table. This would hurt us (literally) as the game wore on with Joe Wilson taking a very heavy hit and coming off the ground – this was to be the beginning of a mounting injury list.
A strong leading mark and goal from Cam Morris into the heavy breeze certainly helped the confidence, giving the lads a real lift going into the first break.
A slightly more even contest in the second saw us still in touch with two goals to Max Coughlin and one to Samme Raghdo. While our tackling pressure was solid, Glen Eira still exposed weaknesses in our ball delivery and made us pay dearly. Despite the hard work from Max Van der Straaten (who sustained a broken nose in a heavy clash), Tom Goldsmith in defence and Liam O’Driscoll with solid marking, we sadly didn’t capitalise enough on the wind advantage, allowing Glen Eira to bag four goals to our three for the term. Still in touch but a lot of work to do in the second half.
The third became the definitive quarter of the game – Glen Eira lifted their intensity around every contest and we paid heavy price. The lads were trying hard but we simply couldn’t match the depth and pace of Glen Eira. Chris Perkins, Lachie Fraser and Max Coughlin were shining lights, with silky skills and the ability to instinctively ‘read’ the play, saw them clear the ball repeatedly but it wasn’t enough to stop Glen Eira who banged on 5 un-answered goals to gain a comfortable lead going into the final break.
The boys kept attacking but having a bench laden with injuries, there was little or no rest for any of the players. We’d witness some smooth passages of play with good run and carry down the wings from our boys but it was all coming together a little too late. A nice snap from deep in the pocket by Tom Marron lifted the spirits, with yet another to Max Coughlin (in a fine Captain’s game) and Ben Marron with a nice set-shot goal helped us out-score Glen Eira for the quarter….but 6 near-misses also told the tale of what might have been. It seemed every time we’d score and gain a little momentum, they would quickly reply.
In the end, a better drilled and structured team showed us the level you really need to be at for Finals Football. Our lads certainly have the ability to match it with teams like Glen Eira but it will take focus and a full, four quarter effort to do so.
The Rovers now take on South Melbourne in the Preliminary Final after their win over Marcellin and our second chance to get to the ‘Big Dance’. The big game is Sunday 9:30am at Trevor Barker Oval and is followed by the Reserves Semi Final v Ormond at midday, also at Sandringham.
GLEN EIRA/OLD McKINNON 1.9 4.11 9.15 11.17 (83)
HAMPTON ROVERS 1.0 4.1 4.1 7.7 (49)
Best: M.Coughlin, L.O’Driscoll, M.Van der Straaten, L.Fraser, C.Perkins, T.Goldsmith
Goals: M. Coughlin 3, B.Marron, T.Marron, C.Marron, S.Raghdo
Thanks again to our volunteers – Huge thanks to Andy Donald for learning the time-on rules and being our timekeeper for the finals. Will Morris – Runner, A.Gramaconi – Interchange Stewart, E. Melnjak and M.Spaziani – Water Runners. Oranges & Lollies – Marron Family.