IT was just the Northern Blues’ third win of the season but it signifies the unity in its affiliation after belting out the club song with gusto in the rooms after the 99-point win over the Coburg Tigers at Preston City Oval today.
“It’s really solid,” coach Darren Harris said.
“There’s a really good bond between the Northern Blues players and the Carlton players. It’s always been the same, we just haven’t been able to get any continuity with players one the park but there was a lot of spirit today.”
“We were really happy today, 111 tackles shows that we really came here to give it our best crack.”
“I think we’ve had seven to eight changes every week and a lot of that was players being injured at Carlton and when you look out there today and you’ve got Simon White and Jarrad Waite and David Ellard, Jordan Russell and Kane Lucas, there’s a lot of mature players playing,” he said.
Quite clearly, it was their most emphatic win of the season apart from the flogging over Bendigo earlier.
Tom Wilson kicked four goals, Tyson Thomas was influential and key leaders Adam Marcon and Kane Lambert were dominant, particularly in the first term as the Blues took a 51-point lead into the first change while keeping the Tigers score-less.
And the club is breeding some youngsters into the Carlton team, a thing of the times in this revolving competition.
“I think seven development players played in the Carlton side last night (against Richmond). Guys like Tommy Bell, Frazer Dale, those sort of blokes. It’s fantastic for them to be able to get opportunities,” he said.
“For the first time in a while, we actually give the selectors something to think about in regards to the players playing well today.”
Harris said indigenous talent Carl Peterson, who is eyeing off another chance in the AFL, was also a show to return for a couple more senior games in the run home after starring in development league.
“Carl Peterson we’ve been rapt with. His last two games have been excellent in the reserves. He’s been really committed in the last month or so and we need him to maintain that. Hopefully he gets a couple of games in the run home.”
The Casey Scorpions have taken top spot from Port Melbourne at the end of round 18, but it is the cluster of teams battling it out for the final two spots in the top eight that will be a dog fight in the final rounds.
Williamstown coach Peter German predicted that one team that is “capable of finishing in the top four” will miss out on finals such is the evenness of the competition.
“I’ve said for a long while now that this is probably the most even competition that it’s been in the VFL for a long while. There’s going to be a side that’s going to miss out on the eight that are capable of being in the top four,” German said.
The Seagulls swooped on their best win of the season over Port Melbourne by 11-points at Burbank Oval.
Certainly it has breathed life into a season that looked dead and buried just a fortnight ago. Wins over grand final fancies, Werribee and the Borough have seen a revival and perhaps it will save its season.
Skipper Ben Jolley has been a big part of the revival and starred in his 150th game on Saturday.
“When you pull on a jumper and you come off the ground, you’ve got to look Ben Jolley in the eye because he’s what our footy club stands for,” German said.
“He’s had a super season again…after the game, there was no bigger smile on someone’s face than the skipper that’s for sure,” he said.
German said his team have gradually improved throughout the season and was delighted with its stance in wet weather footy which has let it down throughout the course of the season.
“When we played Port Melbourne the first time (this year), the group was still coming together because when you think about it, we were only averaging four or five players from last year’s grand final playing each week,” he said.
“We’ve got a whole different group. I just think that we know each other better than earlier in the year.
“It was one of those days today where probably God just needed to be a little bit on your side but in the end you make your own luck. In the end we had 17 more inside 50s.”
“I’d like to think that the in the better conditions we could still play with the same intensity,” he said.
WERRIBEE held off the Box Hill Hawks to win by 18-points at Box Hill City Oval.
Box Hill coach Damian Carroll lamented some poor decision making cost it the game.
“We missed some easy goals and we gave away some free kicks that resulted in goals so it was pretty much the story of the day. We were really disappointed,” Carroll said.
“I think it was pretty even in every area.”
“I think all the stats suggested that it was an even game. They obviously kicked a lot straighter than us and we missed our chances. They’re a good side and they make you pay when that happens,” he said.
GEELONG won its sixth consecutive match with a comprehensive 67-point win over Bendigo and the Casey Scorpions jump to top spot on the ladder after a 36-point win over Frankston.
Hero of the week: Ben Jolley (Williamstown) – The skipper has not let his club down this season and appears to be the one who may have injected some key leadership and motivation into the team entering finals time.
Villain(s) of the week: Coburg’s midfield – Went missing from the start against the Northern Blues. 8.3 to 0.0 at quarter time says a lot about who’s motivated and who isn’t.
Photo appears with approval and courtesy of Arj Online Images. All Rights Reserved