It was the Rovers future on show on Saturday, and if the performance is anything to go by, the future is bright for the club, as a young outfit defeated the second-placed Old Ivanhoe by 40 points.
Three weeks ago, it was a stunning victory at home against Parkdale in a game that was on a knife’s edge from the first bounce, then last week with four changes and away from home after holding a 27pt lead at the final change, were overrun by PEGS in what was a demoralizing defeat in adverse conditions.
On Saturday, the Rovers were up against Old Ivanhoe, who had been in the top four all season and while both teams had players missing overseas, they had their stars in and would have been well within their rights to go into the game expecting an easy win and all but lock in finals. For the Rovers, there were a further four changes – in came Tom Ellinghaus (1 game), Jacob Beames (0 games), Luke Nixon-Smith (0 games) and Will Walker (1 game). Confident may not have been high amongst the Rovers faithful, but on a positive note, the Rovers forward line did boast two ex-AFL players and the leading goal kicker in Div 1 Under19s.
Hampton won the toss and kicked with the blustery wind that favoured the David Street end. As happened last week, the boys struggled to take advantage of the conditions and in a hard fought first quarter the scores were level. Will Crawford kicked the only goal when he took a strong mark on the 50m line and kicked accurately. It could have been two when Will Walker marked a few minutes later but the wind send it wide. Still our key forwards were in the game. We were dominating inside 50s and at the centre bounces big Liam O’Driscoll was well on top, the skipper was at his gut busting best and his quick releases were giving our outside mids more opportunities. Down back our very new backline was settling well but they had a big job ahead of them.
The second quarter started with a rush of Rovers inside 50s and when Jackson Manning took the mark at CHF and handballed to the skipper the big goal brought all the Rovers supporters to their feet. When Oscar Donald applied the perfect tackle and was awarded the free, Pross took advantage and using his pace and precision hit Ben Crothers lace out who put on our second in a couple of minutes. The ball had yet to go into Ivanhoe’s forward line!
A couple of clearances to Ivanhoe and they were looking dangerous. Particularly so when the long bomb was directed at the Ivanhoe full forward but with perfect timing Cam Carmeni’s spoil saw the ball over the line. When Lachy Costello intercepted the OI pass and passed to Will Crawford the crowd was ecstatic until it only resulted in a behind! We were on top, at one stage in the second quarter the inside 50s were 18 to 6 in our favour yet we only held a 14 point lead. The team play of the youngsters in the team was a joy to watch. Whether it was Lachy Celantano, Jacob Beames, Luke Nixon-Smith or James Keys, we were looking good. While 14 points wasn’t a big lead at half time, we were dominant. What would the second half hold?
Liam O’Driscoll and big Tom Ellinghaus were sharing the ruck duties and both were playing well, in the ruck and around the ground. When Will Crawford marked at 50m and split the middle we briefly had a 4 goal lead kicking with the wind. This extended to 5 when Luke Nixon-Smith playing a great game on debut picked up a free in the pocket and goaled and then Clinton Young, rucking deep in the forward line tapped the ball in Jackson Mannng’s direction and his snap was accurate. All over the ground we were on top and while OI continued with their attractive short pass game when it came to the contested ball the Rovers came out on top. Yes, OI did kick a couple of goals for the quarter, off the ground from the square and late in the term an easy goal on a rebound but the Rovers were still on top. When Speedy laid a heavy tackle and the loose ball spilled to Clinton Young, his bullet like pass to Will Crawford was all class. A goal resulted.
Thankfully there was no repeat of last week in the final quarter. A free kick to Christian Carnovale who played on and hit Will Walker lace out for a goal and then crowd favourite Adrian Hugg having had an up and down day on his 100th club game weaved a bit of magic on the far side pocket which resulted in a Clinton Young goal. Six goals up, calmness descended, only to be interrupted when Jackson Manning passed to Luke Nixon-Smith and he again kicked accurately. A great effort by Luke in kicking 3 goals, all set shots on a day where goal kicking was very difficult. The last few forward entries then became the Clinton Young show. He was getting his touch and judgement back and was just too classy for the Ivanhoe backs – 2 goals by him in time on sealed a win for the ages!
It was a fantastic whole team performance. Crispy and Dougie Ballard were rocks in the last line of defence, Hugo Garrow, Mr Cool in defence nullified his opponent, Harry McIntyre was a truck in the midfield and his work with the skipper in centre clearances was a reason our forwards had more chances. In the last quarter when Liam played a loose man role behind the ball it was Tom Ellinghaus’s time to shine and his work in the ruck contests was sensational.
Lachy Celantano, Cam Carmeni and Hugo Garrow all played with maturity far beyond their match experience against a very talented forward line but really all of the team could have been included in the best players in what was a super performance.
The Rovers now have two weeks off – the VAFA representative break followed by a bye due to the withdrawal of Old Mentone. Next game is at home on the July 29 when we take on last placed Marcellin. Bookings are now open for the Luncheon.
Hampton Rovers 1.2-8 4.6-30 8.6-54 13.8-86
Old Ivanhoe 1.1-7 2.4-16 4.7-31 6.10-46
Goal Kickers: C. Young 3, L. Nixon-Smith 3, W. Crawford 2, W. Walker 2, C. Carnovale, B. Crothers, J. Manning
Best Players: L. Celantano, L. Nixon-Smith, C. Young, C. Carnovale, H. McIntyre, J. Prosser
It was a hard day for the Ressies with the number of players that we currently have travelling overseas at about 25 or so now, add to that the injured players. Great to Ben Traeger-Haig pulling on the boots for the ressies and to see big Dave Broadstock taking on some rucking duties. First games for both of them in the ressies in 2023.
Hampton Rovers 1.0-6 1.0-6 1.2-8 2.4-16
Old Ivanhoe 5.2-32 8.5-53 10.8-68 11.10-76
Goal Kickers: C. Kilburn, H. Bottomley
Best Players: J. Bull, D. Broadstock, P. Somogyi, B. Traeger-Haig, J. Dartnell, C. Kilburn
Also a tough day out for the Senior Women, suffering from unavailability and up against a strong Old Haileybury side, loaded up even more for the weekend.
Hampton Rovers 0.0 0.2-2 0.2-2 0.6-6
Old Haileybury 3.5-23 6.5-41 8.9-57 10.9-69
Best Players: M. Behnke, J. Andros, H. Gould, B. Kavanagh, L. Jackett, P. Ward
The Rovers now sit third on the ladder after another forfeit by the opposition.
They had a bye which was fortunate for the seniors and reserves given the number of unavailable players. Great experience for the youngsters to get a feel of senior footy.