West 6.10 46
North 6.8 44
We went into the weekend’s match focused on opportunity. Some of these opportunities presented by way of injury, others have been there all season and continue to be our focus despite our win/loss ratio. Our first quarter was ok however it was far from our best this year. We were a little slow in setting up our defensive structures and we didn’t get our positioning right in our offensive ball movement. We will need to improve this against Sturt this week. Our forwards looked dangerous however and in particular, our small forwards were finding possession in the ground balls. We improved our structures in the second term and I was really happy with our work rate. In particular we were able to get numbers into our defensive 50m area to limit the oppositions scoring. Given the boggy conditions, crowding the defensive 50m was a priority. We also had good offensive spread however I thought our skill level at times let us down. I know we can do better in this area and it is critical for us, in order to improve our scoreboard pressure. Leading by 13 points at the main break, the third term was similar to the second. Overall, I thought we didn’t take our opportunities in f50m and we gave up two goals with unforced skill errors. In a low scoring game, this will often prove critical. Nonetheless, we had some quality inside 50 play, best highlighted by a clean groundball take and handball by debutant Riley Thilthorpe to a running Hugh Haysman for goal. I was also pleased with our pressure on the ball carrier highlighted by great tackles from Gibson Turner and Ken Karpany.
Leading by 8 points at the final break, I felt we lost some focus and momentum in the first 10 minutes. The opposition began to chip the ball through our defensive structures which highlighted some sloppy positioning. We need to maintain our focus on team defence when fatigued. To the players credit however, after giving up the lead, we regained our intensity and continued to spread well from the back half of the ground. To regain the lead with workrate, sound skills and composed decision making, was a real step forward for the group. In the dying stages of the game, Lyndon Hupfeld won a critical 50/50 contest and Logan Hill pushed hard to outnumber at the contest. We cleared the ball and consequently hung on for the win. It was far from a perfect game however given the adversity the group has endured, it was a win full of character and a reward for persistence and resilience. Logan Hill and Jack Evans were given defensive roles on key players this week and both played their roles perfectly. Ken Karpany returned to form with scoreboard impact and defensive impact in forward 50m. I was really pleased with our backline. After conceding 20 marks in back 50m last week, we kept North to just 10 this week. Kaine Stevens was again important in the midfield and Chris Schmidt provided strength and composure at restarts. I was also pleased with Riley Thilthorpe’s contribution up forward. His positioning was sound and he made good decisions with the ball. Given the limited preparation, it was an impressive debut for a 17yr old.
I hope all supporters found joy in the win. We look forward to taking on Sturt this week and to continue our focus on living our trademark behaviors for both the short and long term.