We entered this match very confident in our processes and preparation. I thought Central were the better team early in the opening quarter by winning more of the contested ball. In particular we were a little reactive in our back 50m. However, when were in possession, I was very pleased with our run and carry and ball use, particularly from half back. This is important in our development. In times when we are losing the contested ball and stoppages, still being able to score through strong rebound play is a must. The second quarter was very even again however I thought we improved our contested ball and made some terrific tackles. The stats for the quarter were all positive. 12 inside 50 entries, up in clearances and good ball use. However only 3 scoring shots from 12 I50m entries is below our target. I feel we overused the ball a little around the 50m to 80m area and on other times did not choose the right leading option. An important area for improvement and we could have hit the scoreboard another 2 to 3 times in the quarter, with better ball use. Even at half time, the 3rd team was pleasing for a couple of key reasons. Firstly, I felt we lost the momentum early in the term however we were able to hold tight and then score again late in the term. Stopping opposition momentum has been a challenge this season and I felt we took a step forward in the area in the 3rd term.
Secondly, I was pleased with the way we scored our final two goals of the term. Both from defenders, our ability to possess the ball in the mid part of the ground and then find space on the open side was pleasing and another step forward. Leading by 16 points at the final term, the message to the players reinforced the key behaviours which had been our focus leading into the game. These were around work rate, contested positioning and defensive checking. Central scored an early goal due a to quick inside 50m entry from a centre bounce win. Quick entries can be difficult to contest however there was opportunity for a 3rd man intercept on this occasion. We need to continue to focus on identifying opportunities to leave our man and help a team mate. The next two goals were a direct result of being out worked. We simply didn’t close down our opponent on spread and were outnumbered at key contests. We were now behind on the scoreboard, just eight minutes into the final term. From here we regained some ascendancy at stoppages and contested ball however our composure and skill level fell away poorly. Combined with a lack of run from behind the ball (which was a key part of our game early in the match), we blazed the ball forward without thought. This played into the oppositions hands and they cleaned up most balls across half forward. For the remainder of the game, I felt we held sway with ball and contest however skill level proved to be the big difference. We went at 59% disposal efficiency for the quarter, whilst the opposition went at 84%. For most games, teams sit between 70% and 80%. We simply cannot compete when we turn the ball over at this rate. This results in low I50 entries (just 3 for the quarter) and high scoring for the opposition on turnover. The final result was a 16 point deficit. I was bitterly disappointed and frustrated after the game. The players didn’t lose this game through a lack of care or a lack of want. However we are failing to maintain our standards under fatigue. On too many occasions, our skills fall away, our positioning becomes sloppy and we are slow to react to turnovers. We cannot deny this reality. However we can continue to own our deficiencies and work as hard as we possibly can to improve them. I was very proud of the type of football we played and the improvement we displayed in areas of focus leading into the game. But we cannot accept anything less than four quarter efforts.
We had many solid contributors again. I thought Chris Schmidt was terrific in congested play with his strength and composed ball use. His ability to find a target under pressure is extremely valuable. Importantly Chris and Kaine Stevens led the way early in the final term and were valuable in wrestling back momentum. I was extremely happy with Jack Agostino, in particular his 1v1 contests. A great return to form for Jack. Riley Thilthopre again displayed his talent with some strong marking in the 2nd and 3rd terms whilst Murray Waite and Hugh Haysman were damaging with their run and carry. Congratulations to Connor Fairlie on his debut game for West Adelaide. His energy and ball use through the middle of the ground was very good.