With the sun shining on a warm Autumn day, Wigan Oval was looking a treat and we were excited for the challenge ahead against a team that finished last season strongly and had played some very good football in their trial games.
We came prepared for a tough contest and that is exactly what we got with, both sides having big scoring periods of the game. With our 7th debutant for the year Jordan Moore standing in for Max Proud due to Covid Protocols, we were excited to see what he could do on the big stage.
The game started with a fiercely competitive midfield group on both teams trying to give their forward line first use of the ball, and there were numerous stoppages and not a lot of free flowing football. We expected Sturt to be very strong with their defensive work and we were able to hit the scoreboard with our entries, albeit inaccurately at times kicking three goals five.
The second started again with us missing a number of shots on goal. Sturt were able to pounce on our inaccuracy and took control of the game, making the most of our turnovers kicking the only four goals of the quarter. We were lucky not to be down by more. Sturt’s ability to win the ball back from our poor entries inside 50 made it difficult for us to score when we went forward.
The third quarter saw a couple of undisciplined acts costing us free kicks and goals against, and they made the most of these with capitalising on the scoreboard. At the 12-minute mark our players started to apply a lot more pressure and play to our plan, and we were able to give our forwards opportunities and they made the most of them. Luke Partington, Corey Lyons and Matt Snook were starting to get their hands on the ball and their pressure around the contest was excellent. Andrew Bradley, Sam Durdin and Jordan Murdoch were solid in defence and started up a lot of our ball movement which was good to see. We had seven shots from our 13 inside 50 entries, and unlike the first quarter, we made the most of them by kicking six goals.
With the sun still high in the sky and players from both teams feeling the effects of the heat, it was going to come down to which team was able to win the ball and give their forwards first opportunity. In the first 5 minutes of the final quarter we had the ball inside 50 but missed a few chances until we finally hit the front. Then, we were able to kick another couple of goals to put us 16 points in front at the 15 minute mark.
It’s never good having teams kick a number of goals in a row on you, but I was pleased with the way we stuck to our plan, and it was evident that if we could get our hands on the ball we would be able to impact the scoreboard. It also shows that this new group of players have a never say die attitude. Their belief in what we are doing is strong and they were mentally strong to stick to the plan in tough conditions.
We have had a couple of good tough contests to start the season, but this week’s game is looking to be equally as tough, if not tougher, with the SANFL Crows team playing some excellent football in the first two rounds. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge. It will be great to be back at ACH Group Stadium for another Good Friday clash and we look forward to a big crowd coming down to cheer us on at 4:10pm on Friday.
– Brett Hand, Senior Coach
Goal kickers: L. McBean (4), L. Hosie (3), B. Turner (2), M. Allen, C. Gerloff, C. Horsnell