By Tyler Lewis
Berwick coach Clint Evans admitted his ‘head was spinning everywhere’ in the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s game as Rowville’s midfielders pranced out of almost every stoppage.
And while it didn’t translate to the scoreboard early on, Evans knew he needed – for the sake of his back six – to take action.
The Wickers won the second term after Evans took the appropriate action at the first change.
“I think in the first 15 minutes my head was spinning everywhere,” he said.
“They were just getting their hands on the ball so easily, especially around stoppages.
“(My message) was around being accountable; we put a tag on (Anthony) Brolic because he is just such a good clearance player, just to have someone with him.
“We want (Travis) Tuck and (Bryce) Rutherford to be by themselves and them to try and get the ball, so we had to try and put a stop to him and (Lachie) McDonald.
“It sort of went okay, but they still beat us in the stoppages pretty easy.”
While he confessed the Hawks kept his side in it at times, Evans remained proud of his group for remaining a tough side to play against.
“Once again we’re in the contest, we were a goal down and one of the guys had a shot from 15 metres out and kicked it on the full,” he said.
“But it was just our turnovers again, it really hurt us, when we make an error it’s pretty much always a scoring option for the opposition.
“That’s just where we’re at with the group, but once again, we’re half way through the year and if you take two games out, we’ve been in every game up to our ears.
“In saying that, they probably kept us in it missing a few in the second, but we did as well.”
As the 6.6 (42) to 10.12 (72) defeat leaves the Wickers in 11th position, Evans revealed the sides biggest challenge – and main focus – for the rest of the year is to avoid a last-placed finish.
“To make sure we stay off the bottom, that’s the big thing,” he said.
“We don’t want to get relegated; we have been so competitive for the first half of the year.
“We have played nine games and played 37 senior guys already… we can’t get continuity, but the best thing is, we’re giving kids a go.
“If we can keep doing that, it’s going to be a good thing moving forward – we just have to win enough games to stay up, that’s our big thing.”
While the alarm bells were ringing in the first 15 minutes for Evans, just a short trip down the member’s wing at Edwin Flack to Rowville’s coaching box was a very pleased Ben Wise – particularly at one of his star midfielders that collected nine clearances for the match.
“Yeah it was a good start,” he said.
“From a disappointing performance a couple of weeks ago, we had a big emphasis on our contested work around the stoppages, to get it to the outside.
“Lachie McDonald (25 disposals, nine clearances) was on fire in the first quarter, he would’ve had four or five clearances I reckon, with him, Brol (Anthony Brolic) and Tyler Edwards back in there, we just had a bit of a different look.
“Joshy Clarke was good when he went through there as well, it was pleasing to come out and respond the way I wanted.”
With its shock loss coming before the bye, Wise explained how the break was needed for Rowville.
“The break came at a good time, as well as we’ve gone this year, we are still very young in terms of games played,” he said.
“I’ve got three guys around 30, but majority of my list would’ve played maybe 10 senior games, so this is their first real big pre season and first full year that we’re having a crack.
“So I think collectively we just dropped off a bit, mentality sort of just got to the break, it was really disappointing, but I gave them a bit of a freshen up, we didn’t train all week, I just gave them some running programs to tick off, but it was just more of a mental fresh, to get away.
“Come back, rejuvenated for a big second half of the year… their response was really good, what I really liked on the weekend was the physicality that we showed and that thirst for the contest.”
Noble Park, meanwhile, has solidified that aforementioned second position on the ladder with a brilliant win over South Croydon.
The Bulls were faced with a second successive fight for second position and – led by skipper Kyle Martin – stood up to the challenge.
While known for being a defensively stingy side, the Bulls were incredible offensively, booting seven goals in the first, five in the second, five in the third and two in the last to finish with 19 majors for the match.
Kyle Martin kicked four and was named best afield in the 19.15 (129) to 10.16 (76) victory.
In other results:
Norwood defeated North Ringwood 14.5 (89) to 6.7 (43); Park Orchards won the battle of the Sharks against Doncaster 14.10 (96) to 7.4 (46); Blackburn overcame Vermont 11.6 (72) to 9.8 (62) and Balwyn jumped back on the winners-list against Doncaster East, 16.10 (106) to 13.9 (87).
LADDER: Rowville 32, Noble Park 28, Balwyn 24, South Croydon 24, Doncaster East 20, Vermont 20, Blackburn 18, Park Orchards 16, Doncaster 12, Berwick 6, North Ringwood 0.
FIXTURE: Balwyn v South Croydon, Park Orchards v Berwick, Blackburn v Doncaster, Noble Park v North Ringwood, Rowville v Vermont, Doncaster East v Norwood.