Friday 4 February 2011

A day at the footy... kinda

There's nothing more exciting than an intra-club game. Apart from pretty much everything other the three hours of power at the AGM which is so boring it would send an ice addict to sleep.

Unfortunately the wacky decision to play the match on a Thursday morning put me out of the running to attend, and despite trying to pull several scams off to reschedule meetings or create fictional ones at AAMI Park it didn't happen, and the mental image of The Spencil dominating the forward line in the first quarter of last year's game will have to remain my fond memory of intra-club games for another year.

At least we didn't do a Hawthorn and play our game in Launceston, that was just taking the piss.

Thanks then to Eskimo from Demonblog's former employer BigFooty (we still love the Chief. In unrelated news he also still owns the .com) for stepping up to do a special guest report on the match and hand out the votes. Eskimo joins a long list of celebrities to provide match reports including Gore Vidal, Thomas Pyncheon, JD Salinger and former Panamanian strongman General Manuel Noriega.

Shall we kick off season 2011 then? - Mercado

Apart from being much earlier than usual, it was much like getting ready for any other game of footy for the year. Only major difference being, I was going there barracking for everyone.

First thing I was given a team sheet, and this is how the teams lined up for the start of the game:

Clint Bartram
Cale Morton
Jordan McKenzie
Lynden Dunn
Jack Grimes
Colin Garland
Lucas Cook
Brent Moloney
Matt Fieldsend (Casey)
Stef Martin
Michael Riseley (Casey)
Neville Jetta
Gus Patti (Casey)
Jake Spencer
Luke McKenna (Casey)
Rohan Bail
Kelvin Lawrence
Sam Blease
Luke Beehugo (Casey)
Jed Costigan (Casey)
Tim Costigan (Casey)
Cameron Johnston

Jack Watts
Matthew Bate
Jack Trengove
Mark Todd (Casey)
Colin Sylvia
Ricky Petterd
Addam Maric
Joel Macdonald
Jared Rivers
Aaron Purves (Casey)
Tom McNamara
Tom Scully
Wade Lees (Casey)
Max Gawn
Jeremy Howe
Mark Jamar
Luke Hill (Casey)
Tom McDonald
James Strauss
Mark Weekes (Casey)
Daniel Nicholson
Michael Evans

A few of the notable omissions from the game were;
Green (flu), Davey/Jurrah/Bennell (All Star Game), Frawley (pectoral injury), Warnock (rolled ankle), Jones (back soreness), Tapscott/Gysberts (managed training loads) and Fitzpatrick (in a moon boot, a few whispers of a stress fracture, nothing certain though) and Austin Wonaeamirri (bit behind in the fitness stakes, after spending time on the Tiwi Islands over the pre-season).

Key Matchups
Garland vs Bate
Bartram vs Petterd
J MacDonald vs Dunn
Grimes vs Watts
Jamar vs Spencer
Sylvia, Trengove, Evans vs McKenzie, Moloney, Jetta

From the start of the game it was pretty clear that the White team had the advantage with more class in the midfield, and better targets forward. The Blue team did however have the better defence, so I think it may very well have been planned that way by the coaching staff.

The game started out very sloppy. Missed targets were a prominent feature, as were fumbles, dropped marks and sloppy handballs. It had been raining a bit that morning, so as soon as the ball went to ground everyone had trouble with it. The player that shone through in this time of the game was Scully. He was cleaner than most, ran with the ball and genuinely looked really good.

The White team came out hard early and didn’t take a backwards step. They were going at the ball as if it were a game against an opposition team. This seemed to almost stun the Blue team who really did look like they didn’t want get hurt or hurt anyone else, and as a result the White team skipped away to an early lead. As the quarter wore on the skill levels picked up, and we started to see a bit of flow to the game. At the end of the first quarter the Blue team had struggled to get the ball past half forward, and were trailing by a couple of goals.

At quarter time the masses that had gathered around the ground crept out to see what the coaches were saying but from my vantage point I couldn't hear a great deal of what was being said. The White team forwards were gathered together, and talking about creating space. They had dominated the ball early in the game, but everyone seemed to lead to the same spot, and it ended up being far too congested.

Jim Stynes was out there with Garry Lyon having a good chat to a few people which was good to see. He is skinny as a rake, but looked in pretty good spirits really.

The breeze had picked up a little in the second quarter and was favouring the Punt Rd end of the ground, where Blue was kicking. Not only did they have the use of the wind, but the blue side came out happy to be a bit more physical and it worked for them. The contest evened up a whole lot in the second quarter, with the Blue team getting back on par, before the White team snuck a late goal. The Blue team made more of their opportunities forward in the second term and the Whites were still slightly ahead with regards to time with the ball, but they overused it a whole lot trying to be a little bit too precise.

At half time, the teams changed around quite a bit. Blue virtually became what was left of our best team, and the White team was mostly rookies and the Casey players. Two notable players for the White team were Bail and Jetta, and the major surprises for the Blue team were James Strauss and Addam Maric. A couple of players didn't resume after half time. Blease and Gawn were rested, whilst Ricky Petterd came of with a minor hamstring complaint.

As the second half got under way it was pretty clear the Blue team was significantly better, but that was to be expected. The disappointing thing was that they only managed to kick four goals for the half despite dominating play. They were rusty using the ball, and didn’t take their opportunities.

Encouraging signs from Jack Watts who slotted a couple of nice goals in the third quarter. The first was a single handed pickup through traffic and snap from 25m out. He looked utterly sublime as he did it, as if he parted the sea in front of him. Unfortunately for young Jack, he tries to do this too often, and doesn’t always get away with it. The second goal was your regular set shot. He missed another set shot not long after, pulling it slightly, and hitting the post.

Rohan Bail was the standout performer for the White team in the second half. He was a class above his team mates. His run and carry was superb, and he was close to, if not best on ground from both teams in the second half. Overall, as I mentioned before, the disappointing thing for the second half was that the Blue team couldn't kick away. The skill levels were certainly down on anything I would expect to see by the time the season starts, but as the first real competitive hit out for the year I can cut them a little bit of slack.

A few players I want to note from the hit out:

Stefan Martin – He has trimmed down and is in absolute top notch condition. He has become very athletic for a man of his height, without losing his frame. He can still hold position in a ruck dual, but is now able to really use his leap to his advantage. He looked more comfortable as a footballer today than I have seen him previously. He ran to the right places, made good body position, and created a contest. His hands were a little sloppy a couple of times, but given his height and the conditions that is to be expected.

Jake Spencer – To me Jake has come on in leaps in bounds. He has put on considerable size, worked on his kicking, worked on his rucking, and has improved out of sight. He still has a bit further to go before he is right up to the level, but he no longer looks out of his depth.

The second ruckman spot is definitely up for grabs between these two. At the moment I currently have Martin slightly in front. His work around the ground is better than Spencer, and he seems to have a much greater aerobic capacity. When he runs around the ground with his leaping bounding style he reminds of Jeff White. If he can turn out half as good as Jeff then we are definitely onto something.

Jack Watts – As I said earlier, he has the ability to do the utterly sublime, but at the moment he still makes too many little mistakes at crucial times. He comes across as though he thinks he needs to impress with every single action, where it is often uncalled for. He is once again a bit bigger through his core, and is definitely more vocal out on the field. A few times today he really demanded the ball when he had made good position which was good to see. Jack certainly knows where to move to, and with a little more confidence he can really step it up this year.

Jack Trengove – Trenners has put on considerable size. He has thickened out, put on a lot of muscle, and looks very strong. A few times throughout the game he broke clear of would be tacklers, where last year he probably wouldn’t have had the strength to do so. His skills are very good, and he creates space very well.

Tom Scully – Tom is just a machine. He runs, and runs, and runs, and... well keeps on running. He is the Energizer bunny. He is explosive off the mark, and can break through lines with ease. He looked more comfortable under pressure today. When someone was chasing him he didn't panic like he did through a lot of last season. He realised he still had the pace and the speed to hit a target.

James Strauss – I was thoroughly impressed with James. After being on the list for 2 years he finally looks as though he is ready to make the jump to AFL level. His kicking would be up there with the best in the competition, and he looked more comfortable against AFL players than last year. He provides good run from the backline, but he has also worked on his defensive side, and effectively shut down most players he played on.

Max Gawn – Only played the first half of the game, but got through it ok, and didn’t look too far out of place. He can hold his body position well, and makes decent position in the contest. From what I saw, he is still a bit of a project player, but has tremendous scope for improvement.

Rohan Bail – When he was left in the White team in the second half, he really shone through. He was a class above most of the players in that team, and I would be very surprised if he isn’t regularly pushing for selection.

Jared Rivers – Was an absolute rock in the back half. Never got out positioned, never got out played, always killed the contest, and provided some good rebounding. He was certainly the General down there.

Now for the not so good:

Addam Maric – After the continually brilliant reviews we have been hearing about Addams pre-season, I went there with intent to keep one eye on him. Whilst he looks incredibly fit, and ran the whole time, in my opinion, he is not ready to be a regular in an AFL side. He lacks awareness, is constantly being rushed, and his disposal is often poor.

Cale Morton – Has put on a fair bit of size, but I wasn’t overly impressed with much else he did today. He had some great defensive efforts, but he looked lost out there half the time when the ball was going forward.

Matthew Bate – Bate spent the last few weeks of last year out of the starting 22, and in my opinion he might find it hard to force his way back in. In the mildly wet conditions yesterday he struggled to take overhead marks, and once the ball went to ground he was too slow to compete. He tries really hard, and you can’t knock him for that, but given our game plan revolves around speed, he may very well struggle.

A close eye on the newbies:

Jeremy Howe – I was pretty impressed with Jeremy. He has very good leading patterns, but it took him a little while to get into the game. Once he got involved he did some very good things, and kicked a goal. He went for mark of the year on the wing at one stage, and copped a bit of a serve from Beamer, but he took it on the chin, went back to position and kept working hard.

Michael Evans – Evans started in the middle of the ground and did a fair bit of nice grunt work. I think he still has a little way to go before being ready for the AFL, but he showed glimpses.

Lucas Cook – Cookie did a few very nice things. A few big runs up and down the ground, even without the ball putting on pressure, and creating a diversion. He knows where to lead to. The only negative with him at this stage is his size. He is too skinny to really compete body-on-body with any AFL defenders, but that is to be expected. There were knocks on his pace prior to the draft, but because he knows where to move to, he certainly doesn’t look slow. He certainly isn’t lightning quick, but his pace isn’t anything to worry about.

Kelvin Lawrence - Kel looked very eager to impress. He has great pace, and uses the ball very well in space, but a few times he tried to do too much. He really tried to take the game on. He started out doing some very good work, and then would try and do a little more and get himself into trouble. He is a promising talent, chases hard, and could be a real weapon roaming the forward 50 in years to come.

Overall impressions:

I was extremely impressed by a few players, namely Sylvia, Scully, and Strauss. Spencer is going in the right direction and Martin is getting there also. The skills at the start were definitely very rusty, but given it was the first really competitive hit out, along with the wet, that is to be expected to some extent. As the game wore on we got a little cleaner, but there was still a bit too much messing around with the ball. Some of that came from the new draftees not having the confidence to take the game on. I think we are a long way in front of where we were this time last year, however we still have a fair way to go before we regularly compete with the best in the league. But if we keep improving I can’t see any reason why we couldn’t sneak a few wins against top sides, and really stake our claim for a position in the top eight.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance Votes and Leaderboard
5 – Colin Sylvia
4 – Rohan Bail
3 – Tom Scully
2 – James Strauss
1 – Jared Rivers

Bartram unlucky to miss out. Jamar probably deserved votes for his performance, but considering he didn’t have a great deal of opposition I left him out.

Five points to finish on:

1 – We are a long way in front of the same time last year. We still have a way to go, but we are definitely getting there.

2 – Tom Scully is an absolute machine. His aerobic capacity must be absolutely huge.

3 – Contrary to some views I have read, Jared Rivers certainly deserves the Vice-Captaincy. He is the general down back, and from his performance yesterday I expect him to change a few people's minds for the better.

4 – Lucas Cook will be a very good footballer. He needs the time to develop his body, but he has the frame to build it on. He could very well be the final piece of our puzzle in 2 years time.

And finally – 5 – If Colin Sylvia can stay fit for the whole year, I could almost guarantee he will finish top 5 in the Brownlow medal. His style automatically draws your attention. He continually finds the ball, and as we know he uses it so well. He has the ability to be a genuine star of the competition, it’s just up to him now, but he certainly appears to have his head screwed on right.


  1. Robbie Campbell - injured?

  2. Bails claims that campbell has been training to hard. He is due back Monday. From the AGM thursday night.


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