Everything was looking good for a positive Sunday afternoon at Adelaide Oval. The Reserves side won their Premiership in the curtain raiser and I know how much the League boys were buoyed by this result. We had enjoyed a good build up to the game, with three good training sessions plus the Captain’s run being completed in perfect conditions with a good crowd in attendance.
We started the game well in the first quarter, with our structures and game plan working for the first 20 minutes. We were winning the clearances and inside 50’s but unfortunately our forward wasn’t working as well as we would have liked and we couldn’t capitalise on our entries. We were rushed with some of our decisions and blazed away to the Eagles’ spare man. From the 20 minute mark of the first quarter we then let the Eagles score four late goals from free kicks, transition and turnovers, and this flattened the group at quarter time.
We talked about our pressure and the need to absorb their pressure better while also maintaining our composure going forward. The second quarter really became an arm wrestle and I was pleased with the way we were able to keep the ball inside forward 50, but the Eagles were resilient in their defence and managed to hold us out. With a little bit of luck before half time, Snook could have received a free kick for in the back, which would have given us a bit of reward for our pressure and hard work, but unfortunately this wasn’t to be and both sides only had one score for the quarter – the Eagles kicked a goal and we kicked a behind.
Going into half time, the stats were in our favour and I was pleased with our endeavour but unfortunately we were 25-points down on the scoreboard. The mood was reasonably positive in the rooms, knowing that we’ve had comebacks from this far behind during the year, but it was always going to be hard work in a grand final against a quality outfit like the Eagles.
The start of the third quarter was poor. We gave away a couple of free kicks, but more importantly we made a couple of bad skill errors which provided the Eagles opportunity to kick three goals in the first four minutes. Very quickly, we’d gone from four goals down to seven goals down. The Eagles had upped their intensity and were now winning clearances and on top of the contested possession stats which really hurt us. They were giving us a lesson in how to play Finals footy and we weren’t able to handle it. We coughed the ball up and turned it over on too many occasions. We were unable to get any ascendancy ahead of the ball with the Eagles defence all over our forward line. A few changes were made late in the quarter hoping to provide a bit more intensity around the ball and inside 50 but it was to no avail. After their five minute onslaught the remainder of the quarter was very even on the scoreboard, but we went into the last quarter 43-points down.
Going into the last quarter we talked about taking the game on and leaving no stone unturned, and I think we showed that was how we could play. However our skills weren’t good enough and we turned the ball over on far too many occasions, allowing the Eagles more scoring opportunities. It was a very disappointing way to finish the game off with so many errors and allow them to kick easy goals late in the game.
It was a very hollow feeling at the end of the game, but full credit needs to go to the Eagles and the way they played on Sunday afternoon. Their intensity was at another level compared to our guys and we can’t make any excuses for us. It was a disappointing result, and congratulations must go to Jade Sheedy and his team.
We have had an extremely successful campaign this year, with all teams making Grand finals, and although we didn’t win premierships in all grades it shows the depth that we have at the club and how the future is looking bright. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Joel Tucker, Brett Todd and Damien Raidis and the Reserves team for their successful campaign and winning the Reserves premiership on Sunday. A special thanks to all of our members and supporters who have been at games this year and supported the team along the way. I know how much the players enjoy having great support behind them at all games.
We will now review the season and look at how we need to improve for 2022 and build on this year to give us the opportunity to go one better next year. Once again, thanks to everyone for your wonderful support this season and I look forward to seeing you again in season 2022.
– Brett Hand, Senior Coach
Goal kickers: M. Motlop, L. Hosie, B. Turner, M. Allen