Round 7: Avondale Heights at Canning Reserve
Saturday was a was a great day for the club. For the first time this year we had four wins in all senior grades, including the senior women. For the Senior Men this win made it three in a row. It was the first game this year in which we won every quarter and that was reflected in the final score. Team defence and our ball movement were two areas of improvement from the week prior. And while there is still massive room for improvement keeping any side to a just five goals for a game is a great result.
Avondale were always going to come out and have a crack and that is exactly what they did! Winning the toss, they chose to take the advantage in the first quarter. The breeze was tricky to penetrate making it very tough on our forwards. Avondale’s defence stood strong when they had the breeze by shutting down our two focal points, limiting the impact of Hansen and Watson. In both the first and third quarters we maintained a lot of possession but our ball movement inside 50 and conversion played directly into Avondale’s hands.
Luke Foster and Ben Ross started the game on fire with Luke having seven marks and eight kicks in the first quarter, and Ben shaking his tag with work rate to find plenty of the ball. We lacked a little composure going inside 50 and our disposal to advantage let us down. Our conversion rate in front of goals proved costly as we missed a huge opportunity to really open up the game. The messages at quarter time was simple: we must be willing to work hard defensively when we don’t have the ball and the importance of that final kick inside 50.
During the second quarter we really got our ball movement to flow thanks to Giles Guest and Jesse Boyd, both their dominance in the ruck and around the ground. We started to make the ground big in attack and move Avondale’s defence to kick six goals to one, leaving us still up at the halfway mark.
In the last few weeks we have been slow out the gates after half time so we felt it was time to make a change. We kept the small talk limited and got straight to the point - we all have a job to do so let's get back out there and get the job done.
The third was like the first, going back into the breeze. The wasteful use of the football played directly into Avondale’s defenders’ hands and allowing them to intercept and limit our erratic attack. Avondale made us work with some great passages of play through our zone with link up handball, but the back six did as they had for the best part of the season - kept their heads and rebounded most of Avondale’s advances. We put it on the group to not allow the opposition back into the game. One week prior we allowed Doutta Stars to kick six goals to bring the game back to a fight and I’m proud of the response from the group. We held off Avondale as they had 11 inside 50s for the quarter for just the one goal but it was disappointing we couldn’t capitalise with our 15 inside 50s only kicking two.
In the last quarter, like most games this year, we put the foot down kicking another seven goals to really try and boost our percentage. Watson finished off the game with seven majors after a very even battle throughout most the day. Jake Polizzi’s work rate each week keeps improving and he is finding the rewards finishing with three. Luke Foster had an absolute field day taking 21 Marks and having 30 touches as our centre half back, but the play of the day went to Jason Blakemore! The game was done and dusted with minutes to go and with absolute no regards for his own body he has gone back with the flight with oncoming traffic to mark the ball inside our defensive 50. It wasn’t to save the game but those fearless acts show character of a player and I know I want him by my side when I go to battle.
Even with a 82 point win there are always areas of improvement. This week, like last, we will have a huge focus on team defence, slowing the opposition up when they have ball in hand to allow our teammates to get back into play. The other area of crucial focus will be the last kick inside 50, weighing up the correct decision and putting it out to our forwards advantage. If we can get the ball into a more damaging area inside 50 then you will see our conversion rate improve.
Next week: Glenroy at Sewell Reserve
This week we play Glenroy and I know they will be coming ready to play. While they are coming off a 100 point loss, we can’t think that what Keilor did to them is just going to happen for us. There are processes to take care of first and we need to focus purely on the things we can control. Be great to see all our supporters along for the game and lets make it four in a row.
Final score: Avondale Heights 5.4-34 Pascoe Vale 17.14-116
Goal Kickers: M. Watson 7, J. Polizzi 3, B. Inglis 2, J. Cellini 2, B. Ross, G. Guest, L. Foster
Best Players: L. Foster, B. Ross, J. Boyd, G. Guest, D. Soncin, M. Watson