Walk Out to Winter - DemonDave
So the Indian Summer that was experienced at Pirahna Park last week was one of those early season abberations, and heading to
Werribee was a stark reminder of that. Extreme winds and heavy thunderstorms punctuated the earlier parts of the day, it was only a late afternoon burst of sunshine that convinced me to make the trek down. Luckily in the end it was worth it!
This game had special significance for the home side, their first home game of the season in their new standalone guise, and it was also the unveiling of their new multi-million dollar new facility. The stand itself looks fantastic, when leaving the social club area a peek in the window into the home changerooms revealed a very state of the art looking warmup area, and the social club itself with a huge screen showing the AFL game and full flowing bar in the welcoming warmth was most impressive.
The stand was comfortable and offered a good vantage point of the game, albeit the dugouts are quite high and the bay behind them has clearly had the seats installed too low, the first two rows would not be able to see a thing! The floodlights are on a par with Caseys, ie. very poor, there were so many black pockets out there on the outer where if I didnt have binoculars would've had no idea who of our players had the ball. The home team lined up for a team photo, both teams lined up for the national anthem sung with the sort of gusto that suggested this was a final in September.
Onto the onfield action, the home team were clearly wanting to keep the goodwill of the locals going, and were all over us in the opening stanza. Their desperation was evident, the ball was falling their way and so inevitably was the scoreboard after a bout of sustained forward pressure. Smothers, tackles, a massive but fair hit on Jayden Hunt and our poor delivery to a too tall forward line left the Tigers with a handy and deserved lead at the first break. Mitch White was a rock early on, providing spoiling nous and rebound run. Stretch on a wing was handy, and Jayden Hunt was absolutely running his headband off from a half back flank in this term. This is the kind of form I expected from him last week but I thought he was very underwhelming against Coburg.
The 2nd quarter was more of the same, they looked more desperate and moved the ball quicker than us into their forward line. It wasnt high scoring, but they were clearly the better team.
After half time, Tim Smith was moved onto the ball, Hunt moved up forward and halfway through the third quarter momentum shifted and we started swamping the packs, forcing the ball forward, all of a sudden a previouslydormant Pedo was influencing the game in all corners of the ground, setting up and giving off goals and we were flying. All it needed was for us to get our noses in front before the 3/4 time siren, and that was achieved thanks to a huge pack mark from Weideman who duly converted from 30 out. Momentum and the scoreboard were now tipped our way. The coach knew it too, his emphasis on singling out superb individual efforts lifted the huddle, lots of back slapping and encouragement. Goodwin prowled around the fringes intently, you could sense we were on.
The last quarter was more of the same, albeit a lot more open, with both teams kicking long to more open forward lines, but we all of a sudden seemed stronger around the packs and quicker than them. Another long quarter finally eneded, and we were 2 from 2. Also a nod to Casey for allowing the fans into the rooms after the players to witness the singing of the song. Is this a regular occurence, or did we just luck out? Either way it left me buzzing as I left the ground.
Without seeing the official best or stats, my best were: White, Hunt, Stretch, T Smith, King, Pederson
White - As mentioned he rebounded well and spoiled well all day, the pick of our defenders. He also stood
out with his white long sleeves.
Hunt - Firmly back in the selection mix after that performance. A few passes still missed their targets, and one
final quarter kick in dig land in an opponents lap 25 out dead in front, but he ran, chased, gained meterage and
generally got back to something approximating the Hunt of old. On this he's close to selection for the Anzac Day Eve.
Stretch - A fine four quarter performance on the wing, his ability to take a couple of quick steps, find space and
look for a teammate in a better position was a standout tonight. He's always tidy, rather than damaging with his
posessions but he's a very smart player.
T Smith - His pressure when he was in the forward line was very good, and in the second half he moved into an onball
role and was very influential. Not a typical Smith game because of that, but nonetheless it was a very good game.
King - He doesnt seem to have a presence as a big man, but the longer this game went on the more he stood out as
the best big man around the ground. Not for his ruckwork per se, but taking marks, puting his body in the middle of
packs to put off opponents, little things like that tell me he may well make it as an AFL ruckman in a few years time.
Pederson - Was almost invisible for mine in the first half, but he was the one that turned the momentum of the match
our way with a purple patch in the 3rd qtr, 2 goals and an assist to Hunt got us back into it. From there he was great.
Weideman- Like his other key forwards was very quiet early, but got more involved up the ground with long leads or when
relieving King in the ruck. Took a nice mark in front of the grandstand wing, but instead of kicking along the line
centred it to a 1 on 3, which was duly turned over for a Werribee score. But conversely he showed with that pack
mark and a good last half what he can do.
Maynard- Was busy in and under and niggling all night, gave away a needless 50 metre penalty for a goal too. Wasnt one
of his better nights, but not a bad one.
Balic- Was never going to beat his debut game of last week. Started the opening bounce in the centre this week and
played a fair bit of time onball, given this weeks team was minus Brayshaw, Hannan and Spargo who all rotated through
there last week. Looked ok at times, but other times I wondered if he was still on the ground, he's a bit of an anonymous
workhorse type of midfielder like Maynard but did go forward to get a crucial goal in the final term.
JKH- Another nothing game, his kicking lacks penetration, he's not quick he just seems to go ordinarily most times I see
him. To be fair he was busy enough, just not damaging.
Joel Smith-Took two hangers in the 3rd term on the opposite wing which were the highlights of his night, and was OK
Johnstone-Another who doesnt get involved enough in the game, forward pocket can be a feast or famine position, but he's
not having enough impact when its in his area. May struggle to hold his spot with Spargo back next week.
Keilty- Was again solid down back without being spectacular, his last quarter was good though
Petty- Didnt notice him too much tonight, and he may have spent a chunk of the second half on the bench?
Filipovic-Started in the ruck, but was quickly usurped by King, and for the sake of balance spent time on the pine rather
than resting up forward in the 2nd half. Is some way behing King in terms of game craft.
Baker-I like his football smarts, he started running to the right spots later in this game where he could use his evasiveness
and footskills to advantage. Still some way off senior footy but promising signs.
Special mention to Casey listed Gent, Wagner and Scott who were all very good, as was Munro. I just realised White is Casey
listed now too, but his description can stay up there as he was BOG for me.