Rovers season over with Prelim Final defeat

It was wet conditions at Trevor Barker Oval for Saturday’s Premier C Preliminary Final against Old Geelong, with the winner to face Monash Blues in the 2022 Grand Final.

Prior to the game the boys were certainly up, there was a buzz in the rooms that had been missing of late. It was a lousy day, weather wise, with intermittent showers that regularly forced the relatively small crowd (for a Rovers final’s game) scattering for cover.

There were a couple of positional changes, Cam Morris to CHB and Oscar Roberts to the half forward flank.  The coach persisted with these for the first half but reverted to their favoured positions after half time.

Old Geelong started well and had two goals on the board before we opened our account in a most bizarre way.  The long kick forward towards the square, the ball surrounded by 3 OG backs and no Rovers and one of the backs in panic simply kicks it through from outside the square with minimal pressure.  Speedy did not miss from the end of the square with the resultant free.  Unfortunately, at the centre bounce OG won the clearance (again) and kick, mark, goal all in about 30 seconds.  The big blow for the quarter was that Max Coughlin, as a result of a sling tackle hit the ground hard and took no further role in the game.  At the first break, the Rovers were 2.2 down kicking against the wind (and rain) a good result by our backs.

With the wind in the second term we started well.  Shots by Pross and Perko both missed but they were difficult shots.  Finally, a good handball from Pross found the skipper on the run on the way to goal and he didn’t miss.  Shortly after, Ant Folino won a contest and his bullet pass hit Ben Marron lace out.  Two goals on the board in as many minutes and probably both would feature in our best teamwork up forward for a number of weeks.  A third goal courtesy of a kick by Perko that went higher than it went long but sailed through for a major.  We continued to pepper the goals but could only register behinds while OG banged through a major to level the scores at half time.  It was a great comeback but again we had a number of relatively easy chances that we missed.  The scores were all square at the main break.

The rain started again just after half time and I was hoping this would slow the game further for OG while they had the wind.  It didn’t, they kicked 4, a couple of cheapies from the square but we were still in it.  Joel Melnjak played a great quarter, to complement his first half as did all the backs who were under relentless pressure from the opposition.  Lachie Carrigan was his cool, calm and collected self and repelled a number of attacks and generally the backs held firm with VDS keeping their goal kicker starved of opportunities, Ryan Leslie tight on his opponent as were Harry Crisp and Ned Gray. 

The final quarter, we’re 21 points down but kicking with a 3-4 goal breeze, anyone’s game.  We started well, a goal from the square from Dylan Melnjak within the first minute.  A torrid contest until Cam Morris marked and kicked a magnificent goal from the boundary right in front of the bulk of the Rovers supporters.  We needed it.  We kept the ball in our forward line but just couldn’t kick those elusive goals.  Against the play, OG went forward and while one umpire awarded the mark the other called play on.  Clearly a ball up but the ump took a different view and OG extended their narrow lead.   Clearly Joel Melnjak, was upset at this decision and in the next few minutes seemed to bob up everywhere and when he cleared a path for his brother to pick up the loose ball and goal we were 7 points down with a couple of minutes to play.   

A battle of wills and it was fitting that Rovers veteran Danny Corp saw the loose kicked forward spiral in his direction and with a herculean effort took the chest mark running back and with a very fast preparation kicked the goal with his final kick in the VAFA!  A minute later the siren sounded and the Rovers had gone down by a solitary point.

The scenes in the rooms after the game was one of abject depression.  The one that got away in a game where in the final quarter we had every chance to put Old Geelong to the sword.

The Melnjak boys well deserved being named as our best.  Perko on the wing was in everything all day and in fact, when he changed from the lime green boots midway through the game I thought a new player must have come on!   Lachy Carrigan continued his great form of 2022 and Ant Folino made a welcome return to form in a game that counted. Finally, the skipper, Christian Carnovale, fought it out all day, kicked a valuable goal and led the boys as captain in a way that couldn’t be faulted.   I said in the preview that OGs full forward had kicked 10 against us during the year – a great effort by VDS to keep him on zero goals for the game.

Hampton Rovers         1.1-7    4.5-29  4.9-33  8.13-61
Old Geelong                3.3-21  4.5-29  8.6-54  9.8-62
Goal Kickers: D. Melnjak 2, B. Marron, J. McPherson, C. Perkins, D. Corp, C. Morris, C. Carnovale
Best Players: J. Melnjak, D. Melnjak, C. Perkins, L. Carrigan, C. Carnovale, A. Folino

Watch the Match Replay >

2022 Presentation Night will be held on Saturday 22 October at Sandy by the Bay – view details >

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