Training in cool, slippery conditions at Tullamarine with a light drizzle.
Leuenberger absent Goddard light training but Dempsey back today.
Cooney joined in the first part of training and fumbled in the wet conditions but in fairness he hasn’t played much in recent times. He then ran laps.
Polkinghorne, Kelly, Simpkin and Stokes trained lightly on the Etihad Oval. The other Langford took part in the main training and was quite impressive so it looks like he and Polkinghorne may join the top up players together with Coghlan who also played today.
A new ruckman was also in evidence and did fairly well. I think it may be Melen from Spotswood who played a few VFL games for us last year but I’m not sure so I hope someone else can assist with his name.
The sign of a good side is that in uncontested kicking and marking drills they will rarely miss a target. e.g.at their peak the Geelong players would average 19 passes without a miss. In the group I watched today with thirty metre uncontested passes the figures were 2, 7, 8, 4, 12, 6 and 5. This is a very disappointing level of skill and very little was being said about it by the coaches so this is an area that really needs to be fixed. If you can’t execute skills effectively without pressure you can imagine the problems in match play.
Now for some positives - a number of the smaller in and under players did well in the slippery conditions. Not exclusively but Tippa and Zac Merrett were outstanding with their handling and ball use and so was Gleeson who looks bigger this year. In the first half of the match practice both Langfords were prominent and in a sight to set hearts pumping Francis came through like a freight train to effect a spoil.
The first half of the match practice was a somewhat desultory affair with two of last year’s problems evident: slow ball movement due to excessive sideways kicking and forwards leading to the boundary line in the forward pocket. The players went into the hangar at half time and came out much more fired up for the most vigorous session I have seen so far e.g. Dea steamrolled Baguley with a beautiful side bump and sat him on his backside and I actually saw McKenna execute a block for the ball carrier which is not a frequent enough occurrence in our general play.
However it was not all bash and crash. Joey who had fumbled at ground level earlier in the session executed a most elaborated baulk, the ball held wide from his body and then kicked a nice right foot goal to follow up another good set shot from the boundary earlier in the session.
Things are ramping up a little bit as the top ups filter in. The preseason is full of interest.