Why Rovers can finally break their drought
HOCKEY: Slowly, but very much assuredly, Frenchville Rovers are closing the gap set by the all-conquering Wanderers.
The young bucks have come in, some older heads still remain, along with the pain of last season's failed shootout lingering.
But there is a distinct feel of promise and knowledge knowing they can break the drought and end wonderful Wanderers run of 12-straight titles.
After a worthy brace, including the match-winner, midfield specialist Jarred Bass has taken up a coaching role within the side.
"We are slowly getting back together after a great season last year," he said following a 3-2 win over Southern Suburbs last weekend.
"Having blooded a few kids in the earlier rounds, we were lacking a bit of confidence. After racking up four wins in a row, we are going well and learning fast.
"Souths are always a scrappy game, they are our bogey side so we are happy to get the win.
"Our penalty corners have worked well lately, the set pieces are clicking."
It was a set piece that provided Rovers' opener through Adam Bunn, before Bass added another via deflection. He popped up with a reverse flick with five minutes remaining to seal the win.
"We weren't panicking at all," he said.
"It was nice to stick to our structure and grind away to get the win. We are happy to be sitting so nicely on the table."
- Meteors 4 (J. Wilson 2, M. Ware, F. Bryant) def Sparks 3 (D. Neale, A. Jeynes, L. Richardson)
- Frenchville Rovers 3 (J. Bass 2, A. Bunn) def Southern Suburbs 2 (N. Christensen, N. Druery)
- Wanderers won on a forfeit from Park Avenue Brothers.
- Southern Suburbs 4 (A. Farrow 2, J. Johns, S. Bouna) def Glad Souths 1 (K. Lowry)
- Park Avenue Brothers 4 (K. Taylor 2, T.Madden, E. O'Brien) def Sparks 0.
- Frenchville Rovers 4 (J.Moffat 2, M. Brighton 2) def Wanderers 2 (K. Reibel, R Williams)
Bass paused to ponder when asked about the pain of the shootout, and psychological damage that comes with a title-drought lasting 46 years.
Two weeks ago Frenchville put four past Wanderers, it was a glimpse at what September could hold. They remain the only side to beat the premiers this year.
"It was definitely a huge learning curve for everyone of us... and it definitely hurt," he said.
"Going so close with the team that we had, we did feel like we should have won it. That still drives us on.
"After losing a game like that, you can only respond two ways, to put your head down and say you'll never win, or the opposite and stick together and just work that little bit harder.
"We now know it is achievable, we pushed their great team right to the limit. Before we probably lacked the belief but we have it now."
With two of Rovers mid-field core moving on, the onus to fill the void has been thrust squarely on the shoulders of three youngsters.
Under Bass's watchful eye, their are playing a rotating system and for the best part, shining.
"Last year they were all coming through as under-15s but are now playing A-grade," he said.
"Nathan Moffat, Lachlan Sisley and Jackson Wright. They are learning fast and have huge futures.
"We have the whole season ahead of us to click into gear but with hard work comes rewards and our confidence is high."