By Matt Fotia
Seville’s injury hit start to the season left Kane Shore with no other option then to flip the magnets around and see what his players could do. Some changes worked, some didn’t, but he believes it’s left the Blues in a good spot as they look set to head into yet another Division Two finals campaign.
But before they can start thinking about September redemption they’ll have to take on the reigning premiers and ladder leaders Yarra Junction. The Eagles have been the Blues kryptonite in recent times, having won their last two clashes by 88 points (round five) and 96 points in last seasons Grand Final.
This season’s encounter saw the Eagles pile on 27 goals against the hapless Blues.
But the Blues have put that behind them, having not lost a game since, and will be heading into this weekends match at the peak of their powers having scored 403 points in the last two weekends against Yarra Glen and Thornton Eildon.
Shore says the two sides are completely different to last year and is looking forward to seeing how his full strength side will mix it with the table topping Eagles.
“They’re a different team and we’re a different team to last year and this year is a totally different year, we’d have nine to ten different players in our full strength side compared to last year so it’s totally different,”
“In terms of what we need to do to beat Yarra Junction, you need a full team on the park and you need to match their midfield – it’s obviously strong with a really good mix – especially on the shorter grounds, centre clearances are really key, they set you up.”
The Blues have welcomed back a number of players from injury since their round five loss to the Eagles along with two key inclusions in Gareth Fraser and Josh Neal, who returned to ‘the Chip’ after transferring to Eastern Football League Division One outfit Lilydale over the off-season.
Neal, who kicked 69 goals in Seville’s 2018 campaign, returned for family reasons whilst Fraser’s work commitments impacted his ability to dedicate the necessary time to play with the Falcons.
“It’s two totally different cases,”
“Josh was playing seniors and playing some good footy, people like to think he wasn’t but he was, but his partner plays netball at Seville and with two young kids it just got really hard,”
“He’s off playing somewhere in the EFL and she’s playing in Yea or Powelltown.”
“It’s pretty hard with kids so we kept talking to him and an opportunity opened up (for Neal to return) and we went for it,”
“Gareth’s a different kettle of fish, he started a new job and couldn’t commit the time (to Lilydale),”
“We’d picked up his brother (Jesse) in the pre-season and his work commitments took over so he came back to play with his brother and his mates.”
Shore is confident that the Blues are in better shape this year than last year, with the early season injury crisis forcing his hand when it came to team line-ups. Whilst not everything was a raging success the Blues coach did unearth some additional flexibility amongst his list that he thinks will aide their quest for premiership success.
“Dan Iaucone, he’s a bloke you can really throw around, he’s played ruck, full back, centre half forward, wing and Brendan Dickinson, he’s played everywhere bar the ruck, so it’s worked for us at different stages,”
“We bat a bit deeper and are a lot more flexible (in 2019), even Nathan O’Keefe has played a lot of different positions this year,”
“You find out a lot about yourselves when you get injuries and we’re hoping it can put us in good stead for the rest of the year.”
Seville host Yarra Junction during this weekends ATC Traffic Division Two action.