Tigers’ momentum building for September
Rochester is back in the Goulburn Valley league’s top six after a percentage-boosting 119-point win against Tatura catapulted the Tigers into finals contention.
Coach Steve Stroobants’ rich vein of form continued with a six-goal haul, on the back of successive four-goal games.
While Stroobants was brilliant in attack — taking eight forward 50 marks — it was the Tigers’ top Morrison Medal hope, Christopher Jansen, who stole the show.
Jansen had 48 possessions and kicked five goals to overshadow his coach as the Tigers kicked 14 first half goals to lead by 84 points at the long break.
Three of Tatura’s four goals came in the second half as the Tigers slowed and eventually won 22.13 (145) to Tatura’s 4.2 (26).
Stroobants said the team realised, with three home-and-away rounds remaining, that there was “still a bit of work to do”.
“The great thing is it is all on us. If we win our three games then we play finals,” Stroobants said.
As for the Jensen performance he described it as “pretty unbelievable’’ and ”one of the best individual performances I have seen’’.
“He has, pretty much 50 touches and kicked five goals. His work rate from clearances was amazing and they had no-one who could go with him,” Stroobants said.
He said opposition clubs, on occasion, had applied a tagger him to the former SANFL and VFL star.
But against Tatura on Saturday he was unstoppable.
Stay tuned for our Morrison Medal predictor, which we will publish in the August 16 edition of the Campaspe News.
Of his own form Stroobants said he had played a deeper forward role on the weekend as Mitch Cricelli spent 40 per cent of the game in the ruck.
Cricelli kicked three goals himself, but with 22 hit outs had an impact through the mid-field working in tandem with ruckman Daniel Russell.
Rochester won the hit out count 49-24, but only managed four more clearances than Tatura.
Key defender Hamish Hooppell returned from six weeks on the sidelines to play his 100th senior game for the club, watching on from the last line as defensive colleague Blake Evans pushed forward for three goals.
Hooppell played at full back for the entire afternoon in a typically disciplined display by the key defender.
Stroobants said not only did Hoopell end the game unscathed, but — for the first time — so did his team.
“We came out of the game with no injuries and we expect to have Charlie Ward available this week after sitting out for two weeks with an ankle injury,” he said.
Hooppell’s return and with Mitchell Bright combining with Nathan McCarty and Jacob Atley allowed the Tigers some experimentation in the back end.
Blake Evans was switched forward with immediate dividends, reprising his junior football days.
Evans, Stroobants, Jansen and Mitch Cricelli (who took his season tally to 35 with another three majors) kicked all but five of the Tigers 22 goals.
While the top four appears locked away, unbeaten Echuca two games clear of second-ranked Euroa, which is equal on points with Mansfield, who in turn is four premiership points ahead of fourth-ranked Mooroopna.
Kyabram and Rochester have nine wins apiece from 15 rounds, rounding out the top six with three rounds remaining.
Seymour and Kyabram should win two of their final three games, but (on form) the Tigers appear destined for three wins to end the home-and-away season.
They face United this weekend in the opening weekend in the league’s second split round of the season. In round four the Tigers beat United by 42 points.
Rochester will then face Shepparton Swans in the second-last round, having beaten them by 38 points earlier in the season. In the final round the Tigers face Shepparton, having recorded a 49-point win earlier in the year.
Everything went the way of the Tigers on the weekend as previously sixth-ranked Seymour lost to Mooroopna and fifth-ranked Kyabram suffered a 44-point loss to Echuca.
In the round three meeting between the teams, Tatura managed only five goals in the 132-point defeat as the Tigers piled on 24 goals from 44 scoring shots.
The Tigers will welcome back Joe Atley for the final two home-and-away games, fresh off a 28-possession, three-tackle game for Essendon in a rare VFL win for the Bombers against North Melbourne.
Essendon has a bye on August 20 when the Tigers face Shepparton Swans, which is the last home-and-away round of the VFL season — allowing Atley to play the following week in the final round against Shepparton.
JENSEN’S HUGE GAME
Christopher Jensen’s season high statistical count against Tatura on Saturday is arguably the most dominant individual effort of any midfielder in the Goulburn Valley league this season, collating the equivalent of 216 Fantasy Football points.
Here is his game by the numbers:
48 possessions (31 kicks, 17 hand halls)
19 contested possessions
16 marks (five inside-50)
5 goals and 3 behinds