By Matt Fotia
With his side trailing by 26 points at quarter time, coming off three consecutive 50+ point losses, to a side they would most likely be battling against for the wooden spoon, you could of excused first year Belgrave coach Nathan Johns of fearing the worst.
But the ex-Crib Point coach remained confident his side would bounce back, with his side lacking efficiency and the conditions favouring the home side.
“The ground conditions played a huge factor in that (the quarter time score), they were kicking towards the Yarra Junction end of the ground, which turned out to be the scoring end (15 of the 21 goals for the game kicked to that end),”
“We had 11 inside 50’s for three behinds, they’d had 12 or 13 for four goals five, so we had the supply and energy around the contest, we just couldn’t finish,”
“Our end was ankle deep mud around the goal square which didn’t help us either.”
The Magpies season has been a tale of two periods. The first six rounds, in which they punched above their weight and were competitive in every game, losing just one game by more then 33 points, and the next three where they lost by a combined total of 291 points.
Johns believes his group dropped off due to a lack of reward in the first six weeks, along with a lack of discipline when it came to their roles within the side’s new system.
“We’ve got a new system and are still getting to terms with it and we probably got a bit deflated when we didn’t get a couple of extra wins (in those early rounds),”
“Then we had a few individuals that went into self preservation mode and once one person does that, it is like a domino effect, one by one they all do it.”
To address the clear lack of understanding (of the system) amongst his playing group, Johns decided against the usual Tuesday night training schedule, taking the Magpies senior squad inside to go through his system in more detail.
“Last Tuesday we had a night off the track, we went back over the game plan, with me mapping it out with cones,”
“It was telling for me, because I realised that a number of players, key players at that, who were still unsure of how to set up.”
Johns’ believes Tuesday’s ‘refresher session’ played a huge role in getting the group back on track and working as one big collective unit – a crucial factor in the implementation of his system.
“I think Saturday’s win comes back to Tuesday night, because we had a real understanding of the system (against Warburton Millgrove),”
“You need 18 blokes to execute it, that’s for sure.”
Belgrave host Doveton at home this weekend as they look to climb up the Hallam and Bayswater Division One ladder.