Learnings from each of the six games from the latest round of the GFL..
1) GROVEDALE ON NOTICE
The blowtorch has been firmly applied to Grovedale from both observers and their coach after slumping to a 53 point loss to St Joseph’s on Saturday. Following a disappointing loss to Leopold the week before, Grovedale “didn’t care” according to Coach Craig McCaughan in front of their past players against the Joeys. The past two weeks loomed large for the Tigers coming up against two genuine contenders to test their revamped forward line; however the consecutive losses now leave the Tigers at 2-2 and 5th on the ladder. With only three goals kicked to one end against the breeze, the Tigers only kicked two goals in the first term with the wind, failing to capitalise on the advantage. A strong third term in which they kicked six goals to narrow the margin to just two points at the last change was only a hint of life, as the Tigers faded away badly to go scoreless, conceding eight goals against. McCaughan went hard at his group post match, lamenting the fall away, saying his players didn’t “have the desire to work hard” and some of his troops are “pretty happy to give up when the going gets tough”, who “keeled over and died midway through the last term”. Tough words from the Tigers coach, and look for big changes come Newtown post the Interleague bye.
2) IMPROVED SEAGULLS NEARLY MAKE SAINTS PAY
Quite incredible scenes at the newly renamed Anthony Costa Oval, with the unbeaten St Mary’s kicking 8.24 in one of the more inaccurate displays in recent memory, as North Shore impressed to push them the whole way in the blustery conditions. Making it all the more incredible was the fact Mary’s only kicked the five behinds amongst their 23 goals against Colac last week. Saturday’s inaccurate shot percentage of 25% nearly cost the Saints who met a much improved Seagull outfit, who haven’t got their full rewards in season 2017, but will claim some scalps if they can keep up this form. Just a goal separated the two sides at ¾ time, despite St Mary’s having double the scoring shots, before easing out to a 19 point victory.
3) OLD TIGERS TEACHING YOUNG PUPS NEW TRICKS
While much has been made of Colac’s impressive start to the season (they sit third on the ladder with three wins) and how the young brigade of Floyd, McCarthy, Hillman, Steven, Zydbel, Murnane and Rieniets have hoisted the Tigers up the table, it has been the more senior players pulling their weight over the past fortnight. On the weekend it was big man Lachie Veale who stood up with three majors in a best-on-ground performance. When it hasn’t been Veale, power forward Jacob McGuane slotted 9 goals over two weeks against North Shore and St Mary’s, while the consistent Lachie Simpkin was again in his side’s best. Dean Felekos has snared 13 goals in 4 games, while stars Ryan Monaghan and Kane Leersen have continued to perform to their high standards. It is a balance of the age demographic which will hold Colac in good stead.
4) PREMIER MAKES IT’S MARK
Leopold have won consecutive games and now sit 6th on the ladder following a big statement against an improved Geelong West Giants on the weekend. It wasn’t so much the result but the way in which Leopold did it, which would confirm to the rest of the GFL that the reigning Premier is starting to click. 93-points was the final margin against the Giants to follow up their close-fought win against Grovedale away from home last weekend. What was pleasing for the Lions was the performance of their stars, with small forward Mitch Patten more than doubling his goal tally for 2017, kicking 5 goals after being so integral last season, while another small forward in Brandon Howarth kicked 4. Inspirational midfielder Jai Thompson also recovered from a shoulder injury quicker than expected and slotted two goals. The Lions slammed home 18 goals in the brutal win, and may just be hitting their straps.
5) CATS GET STUCK IN
It’s been tough for Lara and their new coach Simon Riddoch at the start of season 2017, losing their first three games by an average margin of 112 points. Against a young South Barwon side on Saturday, the Cats were more than competitive at McDonalds Reserve. The Swans themselves weren’t at their best, yet Lara’s performance will have pleased Riddoch. After only kicking one goal in the first half, many would’ve foreseen another long second half for the Cats; however they stood up and outscored the Swans over the third and fourth quarters, scoring six goals to five. The end result isn’t everything for the Cats who are looking for gradual improvements within games, and Saturday’s game will have provided just that and give them confidence, with a meeting against second-bottom St Albans to come after the Interleague bye.
6) “WORKMANLIKE” DRAGONS GET TO WORK
That is what first-year coach Luke Rayner described his Bell Park side as following its tight win against Newtown last week. Always known for their tough contested ball work, Rayner lamented his side’s lack of capability in open space and not being able to put teams away. This all changed at St Albans Reserve on Saturday however, slamming home 26 goals in the 124-point victory against the struggling SuperSaints. Rayner would’ve been impressed with his side’s ability to score and move the ball freely, despite coming up against the 11th placed side. Jarrod Garth was unstoppable, kicking 11 goals and now has 22 for the year. Garth more often than not will uphold his end of the bargain, so to see a bigger spread of goal kickers including Luke Rounds (4 goals), versatile big man Todd Stevenson (3 goals), and Tim Sheringham and Matt Iannelli bagging a brace each, the result would’ve pleased Rayner no end. A winnable fixture post-bye against Geelong West awaits, who now leapfrog Grovedale following their loss into 4th spot on the ladder.