Round 9: West Coburg at Raeburn Reserve

The Neil Clinch Memorial game is always a tough meeting of two big rivals, and while on Saturday we won by 71 points, the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story. One thing we know about West Coburg is that they are challenging competitors and make you work to get the game onto your own terms. Coming off a bye and a chance to freshen up, we should have been jumping out of our skin ready to pounce but that wasn’t the case and took us a while to get our game going.

West Coburg came to win the hard ball first and once again we allowed the opposition to gain momentum and kicking the opening two goals. It's definitely a mindset driven factor and we need to change this to make sure teams don’t get the jump on us moving forward.  

It took us 12 minutes to kick our first goal and once again it was Matthew Watson who got us started. From there we gained momentum with Patty Veszpremi breaking the lines and creating plenty of run and Lachie Hansen, back from injury, building a gap by kicking two for the quarter and picking up where he left off.

The second quarter was much like the first with West Coburg's mids outworking ours and controlling the ball to put our backs under extreme pressure. They could only hold off so much with West Coburg out scoring us for the quarter. They had come to play and were up for the challenge. 

We came in at the half time break with our noses just in front, but we weren’t playing the brand we know we are capable of and were relying on to too few to get the job done. Workrate-to-defend was non-existent and too many players were picking and choosing when to put in the effort. Our ball movement was not controlled and not in line with our game style. It was time to reset and regroup and get back to the Pascoe Vale way: we needed look at ourselves in the mirror and for each of us to start playing the role that is required of them for the team.

Coming out after half time, we looked like a totally different team and with a flick of the switch our ball movement started to flow and our defensive unit got on top. Starting in the midfield, Michael Ross, Eamon Ogden and Patty Veszpremi responded to the challenge to break the lines and deliver the ball into the hands of Hansen and Watson. The back six became a wall and every ball was swooped up and rebounded swiftly into the forward 50, as a group we responded to the challenge by kicking  six goals in the third and only allowing West Coburg the two points.

As we continued this play, the last quarter was much like the third, with our mids getting on top of theirs and our ball movement spreading the opposition defence. While our conversion in front of goal didn't let us open up the game further, our ability to defend and finish off the game with only one point scored against us in the final quarter was pleasing.

This game was a tale of two halves! While in the first half the group expected it to happen, where as the second half we played to control the outcome and made it happen. To be challenged at half time and come out and respond the way we did was a huge credit to the group. The third and fourth quarters are starting to become a huge strength, with our ability to put the foot down and put it all together is a massive improvement from past years.

Every game is an opportunity to learn and improve. We started poorly so a huge focus on Tuesday and Thursday night is starting well, as we all know you take your training habits into games. The level of intensity at training will be lifted again and the expectations to follow. We have worked hard as a group to get into this position so we must now work even harder to elevate that even more. We must improve on our balance around defensive transition and ensure quality of our ball movement going inside 50 so we can capitalise on our entries.

Next week: Aberfeldie at Raeburn Reserve

This week it’s the Aberfeldie rematch. We lost by three points in the opening round of the season and its time for redemption, so we must be ready to jump out the blocks. We have only beaten them once in our time in Premier Division so will be a huge test of character. They are coming off a loss to Strathmore and as I haven’t seen them lose two in a row, they will be looking to bounce back. Our challenge will be to put them under manic pressure, to get our ball movement right and put their dominant back six under a real test. I know if we have 22 contributors who play the roles they are assigned then the rest will take care of itself.

We are extremely excited about the position we are currently in and we are ready for the challenge this week. It's another home game so as always we would love to have all our Panther army there to help cheer us on. 

Final Score: Pascoe Vale 16.15-111 West Coburg 5.9-39

Goal Kickers: L. Hansen 6, M. Watson 3, M. Ross 2, J. Boyd, D. Soncin, G. Urquhart, J. Polizzi, D. Harris

Best Players: M. Ross, P. Veszpremi, K. Hardingham, B. Ross, E. Ogden, L. Hansen