By Matt Fotia
Mount Evelyn’s netballers will have a chance to defend their Division One crown in 2020 , after their senior footballing counterparts were knocked out in this years Elimination Final.
Here’s a review of the Rover’s 2019 campaign.
Position : 4th (9-7) & Elimination Final
For : 1282 (Ranked #4)
Against : 1106 (#5)
Leading Goal Kicker : Robert Hartfield (32)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : The Rovers depth is something that they can build around. Not every side from the former Yarra Ranges can boast a strong reserves side like Mount Evelyn.
They finished just percentage behind Pakenham in second after the conclusion of the home and away season and got direct passage through to the Grand Final with an impressive win over the Lions in the Second Semi Final, but unfortunately for the Mount Evelyn faithful they gave up a 19 point lead in the last quarter of the Big Dance to finish as the bridesmaids.
A number of those players had run out in the main game for the Rovers throughout the year, and despite some injury worries throughout the year, Mount Evelyn rarely dropped off drastically, showing the strength in depth they have at the club.
It should give them some confidence to go after some top end talent over the off season.
What went wrong : Mount Evelyn suffered from a lack of ambition with ball in hand throughout the 2019 season.
On larger surfaces they were caught out by their tendency to look down the line first and their overall trepidation when it came to switching the play. This allowed their opponents to keep their defensive shape, with the ball movement not stretching them apart.
Then if they did look to move the ball across the ground, the fact that it wasn’t instinctive meant the speed of ball movement was slower and thus the opposition’s zone remained intact.
What they need : Mount Evelyn need some more fire power, and preferably in the form of another big marking forward.
The Rovers were heavily reliant on Robert Hartfield to either take contested marks, or bring the ball to ground for their smaller forwards to work with in 2019.
Hartfield’s body is battered and bruised from playing this role for a number of years and someone of his calibre would no doubt benefit from some more support.
If the Rovers can find themselves a proven marking forward or two, this would allow Hartfield to play a slightly lesser role, perhaps find himself on a slightly lesser defender and perhaps find himself a bit higher up the goal kicking charts.
Grade – B
The Rovers were spoken about as possible premiership smokey’s at the start of the year, but are an ‘A Grade’ player or two off really challenging. Would’ve liked a finals win, but in the grand scheme of things they finished up around about where they deserved to be.
Position : 2nd (13-3) & Premiers
For : 652 (#4)
Against : 478 (#1)
Leading Goal Shooter : Ellie Karalua (342)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : It’s pretty obvious, but the ruthlessness that the Rovers showed during September was something that all sides should look to emulate and all coaches desire from their sides. They allowed no more than 30 goals throughout the finals as they completely shut down their opponents, defeating both Monbulk and ROC on their way to ultimate glory.
Keeping sides to such low scores on such a consistent basis shows the synergy and chemistry that not only the Rovers defenders (a.k.a. the ‘Brick Wall’ Blacks) have, but the entire side.
What went wrong : In saying that about their unbelievable defence, the Rovers inability to really punish sides at the other end of the court is something that would’ve worried Division One Best and Fairest Winner and Rovers coach Kaitlyn Black throughout the year.
Despite losing just three games for the entire season Mount Evelyn struggled to really put a massive score on the board, crossing the 50 goal barrier on just three occasions for the whole of the 2019 season.
If their synergy and chemistry is top notch in defence, it is lacking somewhat in attack. And the Brick Walls can only keep holding out for so long.
What they need : It’s hard to improve on a premiership side, but the Rovers will be looking for an experienced Goaler to add to their imposing outfit.
Steph Puopolo’s don’t grow on trees, but if they could find someone of a similar make to help their younger stars develop, they could be a netballing force once again.
Grade – A+
Hard to give them anything less after that incredible rise through September. Will be hard to beat in 2020.