Rovers go down to Monash in Semi Final

The Rovers took on minor-premiers Monash Blues on their home ground in the semi final, with a spot in the Grand Final on the line.

We won the toss and kicked with the breeze.  We dominated the game except on the scoreboard, in fact by the half way point of the quarter we had kicked 5 behinds before Monash were awarded a free on their goal line to finally put a major on the board.  We then kicked a couple more behinds until at the 30 minute mark, one of their talls took a relatively easy mark 30m and a goal resulted.  At the end of the quarter we had double the scoring shots for minimal return on the scoreboard.  Ned Gray was putting in another effective game at half back, Oscar Roberts was again marking anything that came his way despite receiving a heavy whack in the nose, VDS was doing his usual leaping, spoiling intercepts but we just couldn’t inflict any scoreboard damage.  Cam Morris was playing a lone hand on the forward line but just didn’t have the support of his other forwards or any helpful delivery from the mids.

The first 10 minutes of the second was an arm wrestle and the big Rovers contingent of supporters were buoyed when Cam Morris took a strong mark and quickly passed to Max Coughlin on the lead who earned the free. He didn’t miss.  We had levelled the scores.  Unfortunately, the Monash boys then got on top and kicked 4 goals on the trot despite our backs hard work.  Hard for the backs when our forward thrusts were seemingly easily repelled by the Ashers and the ball would bounce quickly back into their forward line.  One bright spot was Benji Audige’s tussle with the Monash giant in the ruck.  Not often does an opponent make Benji appear small!  He battled it out at every contest and was breaking even.  Harry McIntyre given a tagging job on one of the opposition’s prime movers was doing a good job as well as winning the ball himself.  Joel Melnjak, who seemed to be on and off the bench all day, was effective in the backline and his dash in clearances was giving us opportunities up forward.

At the main break the coach wanted more desperation, for us to hold our shape and length and to stay calm and play the structured footy we had been playing all year.

The third quarter was a disappointment.  We had the wind yet Monash seemed to be in control all over the ground. They had the first 5 scoring shots before Benji earned a rare free and kicked accurately.  Ant Folino was working hard on the forward line but time and time again there was a lack of support for our marking forwards so that when the ball came forward and went to ground time and time again it was whipped away by the fleet footed Monash backs.  Benji kept up his battle in the ruck and while not beaten in the taps the clearances were being easily won out of the centre.  Matty Rieniets was trying hard, took a couple of handy marks but again was mobbed time and again by the tight Monash backs.

At three quarter time we were 7 goals down with a final quarter against the strengthening wind.  Game over.  To our credit we fought it out to the end and while Monash increased their lead we didn’t roll over but kept the pressure on.  Accurate kicking by Monash made the margin greater than it really should have been in that each foray forward seemed to be rewarded with a goal.  Our quick ball movement was just about non existent and the number of times our attempts at handball to create space simply created problems and an opportunity for the opposition to intervene.

The best players named were a mixed lot in that our best players seemed to be playing on their best players!

As the Rovers finished second, we’ve got the double chance and this Saturday we take on Old Geelong in the Preliminary Final – on a neutral ground – Sandringham’s Trevor Barker Oval.

Monash Blues             2.1-13  6.2-38  9.7-61  14.8-92
Hampton Rovers        0.6-6    1.7-13  2.8-20  3.8-26
Goal Kickers: M. Coughlin, L. O’Driscoll, A. Folino
Best Players: O. Roberts, J. Melnjak, H. McIntyre, B. Audige, N. Gray, J. Prosser

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