By Hayley Wildes
There’s no doubt that Keysborough is firmly focused on season 2018 – their unbeaten start is a testament to that – but the disappointment of last year’s preliminary final loss still burns and is driving the Burras to new heights.
“I think it has [driven the group].” Coach Matthew Ferguson said.
“It’s not just that, but the club hasn’t won a senior premiership for 42 years, so there’s certainly a lot of driving factors, but definitely that preliminary final loss still burns pretty deep.”
With motivation to improve over the off-season, the Burras went to work and signed some key players that are proving their worth.
Damian Collins (Narre Warren), Matthew Carnelley (Forest Hill), James Anwyl and Aaron McIlroy (Mt Eliza) are all new to the club in 2018 and they’ve also integrated under-19s, along with the returns of Michael Downie and Dylan Carlsson – who both missed the entirety of 2017.
With the added star power and depth, Keysborough put in a big pre-season and it is paying dividends.
“We’ve certainly stepped up or fitness dramatically from last season.” Ferguson said.
“The previous season we were coming off a pretty poor year and it was probably more about getting numbers back and so forth, whereas this year is more about building on what we were able to achieve last year.”
Despite that heartbreaking preliminary final loss, in which Keysborough was leading by nine points at the final change only to be overrun by Murrumbeena, 2017 was a massive step forward for the club.
And they want to build on that at the pointy end of 2018.
“[The premiership] is absolutely the goal.” Ferguson said.
“I think obviously the first aim is to earn our finals spot, which we haven’t done yet – that’s the first step – and then from there we want to finish as high as we possibly can to give ourselves the best opportunity.”
“I guess when you’re leading a preliminary final in the last quarter, the next year you’re certainly looking to improve and that improvement would be to make the grand final.”
With the Burras currently sitting second the ladder with a 6-0 record – percentage behind the also undefeated Doveton Eagles – the team is being rewarded for a more attacking mindset and game plan.
The forward line pair of Matthew Carnelley and Chris Bryan is functioning with striking efficiency. The duo has combined for 40 goals in six games and is finishing off the fine work being done higher up the ground.
“We definitely want to be if not the highest, certainly in the top three, for scoring. A real focus of ours was to improve our scoring power and we’ve recruited around that – it’s something we’re continually working on.” Ferguson said.