The Rovers Under 19 Two’s were coming off a big win over Oakleigh but couldn’t match it with minor-Premiers Old Camberwell in the Preliminary Final on Sunday morning.
Sportscover Arena was in terrible condition and the oval an unusual shape due to the construction of the new pavilion bringing the boundary in some 30 metres on one side. Old Camberwell started the game in a frenzy and our boys just seemed lost. The opposition’s superior marking and quick ball movement made us look flatfooted as we fought hard against the initial onslaught. While Camberwell had the first goal on the board we answered when Joel Melnjak was awarded a free and then a 25m penalty. In the last 10 minutes of the quarter the floodgates opened and 3 quick goals gave the opposition a 3 goal break at quarter time. The skipper was working hard and the combination in the ruck of Romain Kozulin and Magnus Anderson were matching the opposition at the hit outs but we were being smashed in the centre clearances. Cam Cullis had a big job on their key forward who was leading the division goal kicking. The pressure was on. Dillon Melnjak, was moving well at half forward but so often found himself against 2 opponents while dealing with ordinary movement forward.
The second started with a great chase and crushing tackle by Jack Daley right in front of the coach’s bench. Sam Raghdo was taking the game on and his run and carry gave us forward momentum but the boys just couldn’t seem to get themselves into the speed of the game. Ash Hoar was continuing his good form from half back and giving great drive through the midfield. We were winning the inside 50 count but the delivery to the forwards was ordinary to say the least. Neither Will Wood or Corey Jones were given a chance from the mids, so often the kick forward was errant making it easy for the defenders to intercept.
At the break coach Sam Care, stressed that he didn’t want the ball to be kicked down the line due to the OC’s dominance in the air. He called for more determination and effort by his midfielders who just weren’t in the game. He made some moves, Ash Hoar to full forward, Corey Jones to CHF, Josh Broadley went into the ruck and Will Wood went to a wing.
In the first minute of the third quarter it seemed to pay dividends when Ash, one out, took a strong mark 15m from goal …and then kicked into the man on the mark! OC took advantage of the miss and peppered their goal for the next 15 minutes for a return of 1.5 for the quarter while we didn’t trouble the scoreboard.
In the final quarter things were looking ugly. The Wellers were on top around the ground and with more accurate delivery were opening gaps in our defence. Still the boys were fighting it out and while we just couldn’t score we had as much of the play as the opposition for no reward. Josh Broadley in a desperate attempt to stop an opposition kick, succeeded, by stopping it with his mouth. He came off to assess the damage. Finally, with a couple of minutes to go Tom Butters swooped on the loose ball in the goal square to record our second goal for the quarter and last score for the game.
In the rooms after the game spirits were deflated but the first-year coach was positive about the inaugural year of the Under 19 Two’s performance in the VAFA. Camberwell had only one team in the Under 19s and this was the same for a number of other clubs in the division. For next year, the coach asked for a more committed attitude to training from the start of preseason and made it clear that all those eligible for U19 next year should be aiming to play in the firsts.
It was great to see such a big contingent of Rovers supporters and players at Sportscover Arena to support the boys in their quest for final’s glory.
HAMPTON ROVERS 1.0 1.5 1.5 2.6 (18)
OLD CAMBERWELL 4.2 6.2 7.7 11.10 (76)
Goals: Joel Melnjak 1, Tom Butters 1
Best: Jack Daley, Ash Hoar, Dillon Melnjak, Oscar Donald, Will Wood, Romain Kozulin, Connor Cochrane
The U19 Vote Count Night has been set for Friday 22nd September at Boss James Reserve. It’s $25 per head for a sit-down dinner with drinks available at bar prices. Votes will be counted for both U19 sides. We welcome all players, parents and supporters along – click here for details and to buy your ticket. RSVP by Friday 15th.