Having watched North V Sturt in Round 7, we went into this match wanting to slow their ball movement. They have pace all over the ground and look to use this to create counterpunch football from the back half of the ground. Although we started the match with the desired intensity, we overused the handball early and were fortunate not to be scored against on turnover. Once we settled, our decision making improved and we were able to match the opposition for the quarter. I was particularly happy with our defensive pressure in our f50. Six scoring shots from 12 entries was also pleasing (anytime we score at 50% or more is a good result). Leading by six points a quarter time, I thought our second quarter was just average. Just a small drop in our defensive mindset and concentration saw the opposition create scoring opportunities from 50/50 contests. We also lost a some structure at stoppages. So although our defensive intent remained, our positioning was sloppy. Offensively, we still created some great fast plays but didn’t execute when entering f50- we needed to be more composed and patient to find leading targets. The result was a four to one goal quarter and we trailed by 11 points at the main break. A five goal to two 3rd quarter was a pleasing result. I felt that our continued pressure on the ball carrier was starting to show and we found much improved positioning behind the ball. This resulted in many repeat I50 entries and we finished the quarter with 17 to 6 here. It was also pleasing that our forwards kicked straight. Leading by 8 points at the final break, the message was again to focus on the processes we had put in place, we felt we didn’t need to change anything drastically here. A free-kick off the ball gave us the early goal and we had some breathing space. Overall the next 10 minute period was very even and with a great goal to Connor Fairlie at the 12 minute mark, we maintained our 2 goal lead. Unfortunately, a couple of errors around stoppages, proved costly and the opposition closed to a goal behind at the 17 minute mark. I was pleased that we didn’t go into out shell however and we continued to run had both ways. A great passage of play saw Josh Koster miss a tight shot on goal but it was more disappointing to see us lose concentration and set up poorly for the kick in. Again some positioning and movement errors were costly and the opposition transitioned the ground to score. I was so pleased we kept fighting from here. We were relentless with our pressure and composed with our ball use. We were rewarded with another shot on goal, but unfortunately could not make it count.
Overall I felt we deserved better. Take nothing away from the opposition who responded when they needed, but the result could have easily gone the other way. Post-game, we acknowledged the many things we did well and were content that we carried out our game-plan as required. But we also acknowledged that the little things matter. Errors when the game needed to be won included errant handballs in tight, fumbles of ground balls and an F50 entry which was against our plan and was intercepted. Whilst winning and losing is the result of many things, we need to be more rock solid in the basics.
Despite not having the best night at stoppages, Kaine Stevens and Brett Turner were terrific all night. Our small forwards were fantastic- Ken Karpany, Tom Morrish, Isaac Johnson and Josh Koster. Together they continually forced the opposition into rushed kicks and they had scoreboard impact. Hugh Haysman again provided plenty of run and carry whilst Mitch Duval continues to impress at half-back. Aaron Anderson and Logan Hill were both at their competitive best.