For the previous two weeks, I have been critical of our players work rate and we placed a large focus on this going into this week’s match. We felt our best chance to beat the Eagles was to make this a contested ball game, rather than a free flowing shoot-out. Accordingly, I was content with the way the players stuck to our planned structure this week. However what we experienced against was not only a deficiency in running capacity but a deficiency in contested ball. The pressure applied to the ball carrier between the two teams was as vast as the outcome. From the first bounce we were under pressure and we failed to manage this. Too many times we went to ground or coughed up the ball when tackled. On occasion we when got free, the referred pressure caused unforced skill errors. Conversely, our poor tackling technique and strength was highlighted in out tackles. There were far too many broken tackles or tackles where the opposition was still able to get a decent handball away. This enabled the opposition to chain out of contested ball far too easily and enter I50 at pace. Our backs had a mixed day. On occasions they held up manfully under pressure, on other occasions, our lack of composure was costly. Our mids were well beaten on the night. Brett Turner played a tagging role and was diligent with this. However we were beaten in spread from restarts again. It is an area we must improve in. Our forward line had some good moments however we were unable to have an aerial presence for most of the night and I thought our smalls were unable to apply enough tackle pressure when needed. I also thought they were run off on too many occasions through lapses in concentration. Overall, the opposition proved to be superior physically and mentally. It is fair to say that as a group we have lost some confidence after a trying season, however we also noted post-game that the opposition has the set the bar very high and we have considerable work ahead of us. We cannot change much of that in one week, but preseason will bring opportunities for those with shortcomings to remedy these. Those who choose not to, or cannot, will be overtaken by those who are committed to the challenge.
Tom Keough led admirably again. Playing in defence, his composure under pressure stood out. Logan Hill and Sam May also competed well in defence. Tom Morrish was our most productive forward with three goals. Tom continues to make the most of his opportunities in F50 which is great for a player after just a handful of games. Brett Turner and Kaine Stevens had solid nights, as did Dallas Willsmore on a wing.