Round 6: Essendon Doutta Stars at Raeburn Reserve

Winning our first game at home was our goal and win we did. This gave us two wins in a row and as the saying goes, winning form is good form. A huge lesson from the game is no matter who the opposition is we have to play a brand of football that is consistent and will stand up against the best.  We can’t rely on two quarters of football to bring us results and as I’ve spoken about, before if we don’t come with the mindset of outworking our opposition and with the manic pressure of our team defense, getting the four points against any side in EDFL Premier Division is going to be tough.

Lachie Hansen was outstanding. Kicking eight goals and taking 14 marks, he created plenty of contests and I hope he has found the confidence in his game that he has been searching for in the past few weeks. Matty Watson has been one of the more consistent players this season and was again a very solid contributor kicking another five. Jake Polizzi managed to find the form we all know he is capable of, having to adapt his game to play higher and become a dangerous crumbing forward to finish off his hard work with four majors. Ben Allan, a local boy and former Pacco junior returned from Coburg VFL  for his first game of senior footy. His composure with ball in hand was a class above and while we probably won’t see much of him this year, every game we can have him we know we are in for a treat. Ben Ross had another solid game through being one of our better ball users, every possession was used wisely and had an impact on the scoreboard too.

Essendon Doutta Stars came into the game winless and hungry. If we allowed them to become confident and play on their terms then we were going to be in for a very hard day. We knew that their midfield was their barometer and if we allowed them first use, which we did, it would be a huge battle. The game was played on both sides of the ground with Douttas playing one side and us on the other which meant a lot of sling shot goals from the defensive 50.

Ben Ross and Eamon Ogden linked up out of the midfield to hit up Matty Watson to get the ball rolling and game onto our terms, but our inability to out work the opposition and lack of team defense meant Douttas were able to hit the scoreboard and keep the first quarter to an even race. The second quarter was a much better effort with our boys kicking seven goals to two playing the brand of exciting ball movement from our back half that we focus on each and every week. After the half time break, as in the first quarter, bad habits came out with lack of effort and intensity around the ball. Douttas came out with a mindset to not give up and have a crack, while we went through the motions and just expected something to happen. Being second to the ball and with no care for defence meant Douttas could capitalize with free running football and kicking seven goals to our two goals to bring the game back to just 6 points. In the huddle we spoke about going back to the basics and needing some players to put their hand up to play the sacrificial roles of holding down Douttas dominating mids. Daniel Harris, back for his first game for year, did just that. He played a huge part in limiting the impact of the opposition in stoppages and allowed Ben Ross and Ben Allan to get the ball going forward with some crafty centre clearances that landed the footy into the hands of our dangerous forwards. The final quarter was played predominantly in our forward 50 where we kicked nine goals to three to finish off the game 42 points clear.

Win, Lose or draw there are always lessons to learn and this weekends game gave us some key areas need to be addressed. We now have the week ahead of us to improve on our team defense and shutting down the opposition attack inside our forward half. The backline will be focusing on not allowing the ball out the back and our ball movement, while the mids will be working on their defensive game with location and defensive positioning when we turn the ball over. Even though our forwards had a good day in front of goals we want them constantly on the move and creating havoc so we will be working on blocking and selfless team first acts.

Next week: Avondale Heights at Canning Reserve 

This week we come up against Avondale Heights in a ladder position that doesn’t do them justice. They drew with Aberfeldie and playing Avondale at Avondale is always a tough ask so we must be prepared to come to the game ready to crack in, win the contested football and get back to the basics. Effort and team defense will be the keys to us coming home with the four points.