We were greeted with wet and windy conditions for our trip to Woodville on Saturday. Having fallen marginally short in our past two matches, we entered the match confident that we could challenge the Eagles based on form and our belief in our improvement since our round 1 meeting. We kicked with the breeze in the first term and despite giving away an early goal, we managed to keep the ball in our forward half for much of the quarter. Our pressure in forward 50m was very good and we forced the opposition into rushed kicks and turnovers. I felt we didn’t quite make the most of all opportunities presented however and our decision making when re-entering forward 50m on turnover can still improve. Despite this, we kept the opposition to one goal and took a 14point lead into quarter time.
Into the breeze in the second term and unfortunately we didn’t adapt well enough. Whilst our effort remained, our handball to kick ratio was above our usual count which was an indicator of us not moving the ball quickly or directly by foot from restarts. In wet conditions, too much handball will allow the opposition to pressure you into mistakes. Some poor decisions with the ball through the middle of the ground and some missed opportunities in front of goal also proved costly. All of these things are within our control however and we will continue to try and improve in these areas. A five goal to zero quarter meant the Eagles led by 16 points at half time.
We were a little slow out of the blocks in the third term and the Eagles got a quick goal against the wind. I felt we were able to wrestle back the momentum however and our delivery to key forwards Mason Middleton and Jake Wilson was very good. I was also very pleased with Murray Waite and John Noble who moved to new positions in the 3rd quarter and had really positive impacts.
Tailing by 8 points at the final term and despite kicking into the wind, I felt the players had the required belief and will to win the game. We kicked the first of the term through Jono Beech to close the margin to two points however the proceeding 10 minutes of play was frustrating. Caught in the Eagles forward line, we became a little too conservative and predictable with our ball movement. Consequently, the Eagles were able to defend our long kicks very easily and return the ball quickly. We defended gallantly during this time however we still needed to score to win the match.
Heading towards the 20 minute mark, we started to be a little braver with the ball in order to find some space and run. Unfortunately, unforced skill errors proved costly and the Eagles scored twice on turnover. We battled out the match however the final margin was a 21point deficit. I mentioned to the players after the match, that whilst the last quarter turnovers were disappointing and skills continue to be an area for further improvement, I was pleased with the player’s willingness to back our game plan.
We need to continue to believe in what works for us and accept that sometimes we won’t get the desired result. Overall, again, I thought our effort was very good. We continued to challenge the opposition and again, gave ourselves opportunity to win the game. Already, I and the group have learnt more from this game. We will look specifically this week at how we move the ball in poor conditions. We had strong contributions from many players again this week. Mason Middleton continued his strong form with four goals and many strong contested marks. Tom Keough again provided strong defensive impact in the midfield with many tackles. I also thought his ball use in the conditions was standout. Our back six were again solid. Josh Ryan won his position and Logan Hill, Jack Agostino and Jack Evans, were diligent in their roles on the Eagles small forwards. Josh Schiller, matched up on the Eagles leading ball winner in Scott Lewis and won this battle.
Whilst we have fallen short on the scoreboard in our past three games, we have been more than competitive in each. Moving our game from our current level, to that of the top teams is something we are aspiring to do. It is however a task that requires a little patience, as players continue to mature, become more confident and continue to improve their training standards. Consistent high level football, is our main focus moving forward.
ROUND 11 STATS AND RECAP
FINAL SCORE: EAGLES 1.1 6.3 9.4 11.11 (77) | WEST 3.3 3.5 7.8 8.8 (56)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Stevens 27, Keough 25, Schiller 23, Noble 22, B. Turner 19, Batley 18, Hill, Beech 17.
GOALS – Middleton 4, Wilson 2, Beech, Waite.
BEST ON GROUND –
1st – Tom Keough | 2nd – Mason Middleton | 3rd – Jono Beech
Best Team Man – Andre Parrella
FINAL SCORE: WEST 2.2 6.6 10.10 13.11 (89) | EAGLES 1.1 2.3 4.3 8.5 (53)
GOALS – Pillion 3, I Johnson, Holliday, Hupfeld, G Turner 2, Fairlie, O Johnson 1.
BEST ON GROUND –
1st – Patrick Fairlie | 2nd – Issac Johnson | 3rd – Nick Jaensch | 4th – Dustin Head
Join us this Saturday as we celebrate Multicultural Round, with a triple header against North Adelaide at City Mazda Stadium.