We had a satisfactory start to the game on Sunday. I thought we defended the forward 50m well and caused some good scoring opportunities with pressure. We were not at our best defending the middle and back 50m. This was due to poor defensive checking of opponents on turnover. We need to more diligent and desperate in this area. When we did win the ball across half back, we did well to counterpunch with good skills. In the second term, we defended really well and caused the opposition to have to scrap for forward entries. I was really proud of the players for their efforts here. We did however overuse the handball a little in the back half of the ground. Given the conditions, the occasional surge kick was warranted, however I am happy that our backs were trying to contribute offensively with attacking run. Two goals down at half-time, we pressed hard in the third term without great reward on the scoreboard. Our felt our key forwards didn’t quite take the opportunities presented via some really positive ball movement. Defensively, we remained strong and continued with high pressure and tackling, however some lapses in concentration were costly. On occasion, we position poorly, are slow to chase or cough up the contested ball with a fumble or by falling over. These look like small errors, but against quality opposition, they inevitably lead to scoreboard impact. Four goals behind at the final break, we again fell away in our work rate. In isolation, the drop off may not appear obvious, but small drops have a flow on effect. For example, poor positioning or a lack of chase at a stoppage by just one player can result in higher kicking efficiency by the opposition, which then leads to a mark in their F50m and no opportunity for us to counter punch on turnover.
Overall, the message to the players was ‘better for longer’. For most of the day, we played to instructions, competing hard at contested ball and running hard both ways. But small lapses in concentration in the first three quarters consistently lead to scoring opportunities for the opposition. In the last quarter, the drop off is lasting for longer periods. Our ability to maintain standards under fatigue is therefore an issue. If we can play to our best standard for longer, we will stay in games longer.
I thought Nathan Batley was our most consistent player on the day. Reliable with his positioning, he handled the conditions well with one takes and good ball use. Chris Schmidt was very damaging around restarts, particularly in the first half. Logan Hill again provided some great run from the back line and led the way early in the game with his defensive mindset, particularly when others were a little too reactive in this area. I felt Josh Ryan had the better of his battle with Josh Jenkins, particular in aerial contests and Jade Cleeland impacted with his strong attack on the ball both on the ground and in the air.
Watch Gavin’s post game address at presentations Sunday night in video below