Round 8 v Adelaide Football Club shaped up to be the biggest test we’ve faced for several weeks – not so much because of the amount of AFL-listed players, but more because of the quality they had, especially through the mid part of the ground. For us to get to where we want to be in the short term, and certainly long term, we need to be able to turn up and compete for long periods against this type of opposition. It was not necessarily a make-or-break game considering the point of the season, but it was a game that would test everything we are endeavouring to do consistently. We are really pleased with how we stuck to our process and found a way to win when it looked like a tough ask a few times.
The first half was an arm wrestle around the contest, which we had planned for, and we were aware that it would hold the key to the outcome. We felt for periods they were on top in this area and able to get clean ball out and put us under pressure in our back half. As they have all season so far, the backline was able to stay composed and not let the game get out of our reach. We had our strong moments also, and when we did some of our ball movement was able to test Adelaide’s defence. The last part of the first half was certainly important in the outcome, with a couple of late goals giving us some strong confidence into the second half.
It was a strong, aggressive third quarter where we were able to play some exciting football on the back of excellent team defence and our midfield group getting control of the game around contest. As we have done in other games, we were able to keep the ball in our forward half of the ground for long periods. Ball in hand, our ability to change direction and keep challenging their defence by foot was important. We know when we do that, we have the talent forward of the ball to take advantage, and five goals in that period allowed us to turn a 10-point deficit at half time into an 8-point lead at the last break.
That was never going to be enough to see us home, and as is the way in this competition, if you drop off slightly the opposition will take advantage. We didn’t feel like we did too much wrong, but we found ourselves nine points down with not long left. In certainly a pleasing sign, our method to get ourselves back in the game stayed strong, with our aggressive intent by foot and strong defensive pressure creating a couple of opportunities to put it on the scoreboard. A couple of outstanding moments both individually and collectively allowed us to hold on and record a high-quality win. You can only win games like these with 22 contributors, and we had that on this occasion.
Our Reserves group got back to the exciting football that we had seen over the first part of the season. While their offence was a highlight, the ability to be able to defend in a manner that we are wanting was a pleasing aspect from a coaching point of view. When they have been engaged in that, their ability to move the ball and create scoring chances is very impressive for a reasonably young group. As a club we are excited by the talent that we have building in this group.
We move into a top-of-the-table clash with Sturt Football Club, who remain undefeated after eight rounds. We were not thrilled with our effort in Round 1 against them, and look forward to the opportunity again this coming Monday. For both teams, the opportunity to sit on top of the table at the halfway point of the season is at the end of it. We are looking forward to testing ourselves against the benchmark team of the competition so far. It shapes to be another great game of football.
We look forward to seeing as many people as possible there with lots of activities, events and entertainment on. It will be a great day of SANFL football. See you at the BAY!
– Darren Reeves, Senior Coach
Goal kickers: Liam McBean (5), Luke Reynolds (2), Lachie Hosie, Corey Lyons, Max Proud, Brett Turner, Matt Allen
Best Players: Darcy Bailey, Liam McBean, Luke Partington, Matt Snook, Brett Turner, Cameron McGree, Matt Allen