After two disappointing matches we needed to respond well against ladder leader, the Eagles. With injuries to Willsmore and Batley during the week, we welcomed two new debutants into the team in Tom Morrish and Will Mead. Both had shown strong form in the Development team and were deserving of their promotion. In the first term we started well in the middle of the ground and had first use of the ball. Our pressure on the opposition was very good and our defensive structures were more organized than the previous week. Both teams had equal F50 entries for the quarter however we couldn’t capitalize on our chances whilst the Eagles small forwards took advantage of small positioning errors from our defenders and snapped two goals.
We were very much in the game at quarter time. The opposition scored early in the second quarter after two taking two strong contested marks however a strong mark and goal to Tom Keough again kept us in touch early in the quarter. From here we continued to work hard but there was a big difference in forward line effectiveness throughout the quarter. Whilst our skills and decision making going forward was sound, we dropped marks which are expected to be taken. When trying to stay with a top team, you need to take your opportunities. A late goal to Josh Koster kept us in touch a half time.
I wanted us to be a little more direct in the second half as I felt we were gaining our best scoring opportunities when we gave our forwards 1v1 opportunities. This tactic continued to provide our best scoring opportunities however it also saw the opposition rebound the ball without us finding good defensive position behind the ball. On numerous occasions we were too slow to react to turnover and were transitioned too easily. We must do better in these situations- to find a man or impact the ball carrier. Despite continued effort and intensity in the final term we lost our way with our offensive ball movement. We began to overuse the ball when we needed to be more direct. The stats offer further insight here- we had 109 possessions to 69 for the quarter yet only had half the f50 entries of the opposition. Our inability to penetrate from half back caused turnovers in dangerous positions and were we eventually hurt on the rebound.
Overall, I couldn’t question our intent and our contested ball for most of the day. Our skills were improved on the previous week and our defensive structured when the opposition were slowed, was also improved. We need to improve our defending of turnovers in fast play. At times we reacted slowly, were outworked by our immediate opponent, or did not close down an opponent as outlets. I am sure we can improve here and decrease the oppositions scoring efficiency on rebound. Overall, I felt we had the better of the midfield on the day. Kaine Stevens was instrumental here. I was very happy with Sam May and Aaron Anderson across half-back and Hugh Haysman was a consistent performer over the four quarters.