The first quarter was very even. We started well with defensive pressure and had some good offensive movement. Hitting our leading key forwards on four occasions was pleasing given our recent form in this area. Conversion from long range was difficult however given the breeze. Importantly, we were able to limit the opposition’s uncontested possession in the middle of the ground which forced rushed f50m entries. This greatly assists our defenders and resulted in some good intercept marks. However we did not fully capitalize on these turnovers due to missing too many of our own kicks on the rebound. Our ability to counterpunch has improved with more aggressive running however we must get better at hitting our targets.
Our team defensive structures were effective in the second term as we limited the oppositions rebound from our forward half. This was a pre-match focus so it was pleasing to see the players achieve this objective. We had our opportunities to score but didn’t always choose the right option inside 50m. There are times when players need to choose the more conservative option rather than trying to kick goals from difficult field positions. Overall, the quarter was very even and I couldn’t question the players work rate and contested efforts. We again held sway in the third term and remained just two goals down at the 19 minute mark. From here we lost focus. Our key backs got caught ball watching and allowed some easy marks. Our mids were beaten too easily at centre clearances which allowed the opposition to run out of the middle with minimal pressure. On a small oval, this puts the backline under immense pressure. After competing well for almost three quarters, three goals in four minutes was incredibly disappointing. Trailing by 36 points at the final break, we needed to regain some ascendancy in the middle of the ground however this did not occur. We were smashed at restarts for the quarter (6 to 18) and in particular centre bounce (2 to 6). Not only did we give up front position too easily, our efforts to chase and defensively spread was very ordinary. The result was very easy forward 50m entries and us often being outnumbered. When we did have controlled possession in the back 50m, we did not work hard enough to provide options to possess the ball, resulting in too many long to contest kicks. In the end, the key difference was work rate. One team picked up the intensity in the last term and the other dropped significantly. Perhaps best highlighted by us also being outtackled (15 to 21) despite us having far less of the ball.
In some respect, the solution to an improved performance is clear- improved work rate for four quarters. Making this happen is a little more complex. Our running capacity is an issue for our group and must be addressed during pre-season. We need to keep working on our resilience and mindset in games. We also need to ensure our leaders are taking charge by their own actions and by pushing others to do the same. We get another opportunity this week to work on these deficiencies.
As the game suggests, we struggled to have many four quarter contributors. I was really pleased with forwards Riley Thilthorpe and Connor Fairlie. Both took their opportunities and had scoreboard contribution. Nathan Bately again provided strong contested ball in the mids and backline whilst Josh Ryan kept the competition’s leading goal kicker to just one major.
1st Nathan Batley
2nd Connor Fairlie
3rd Josh Ryan
4th Logan Hill
5th Riley Thilthorpe
6th Andre Parrella