Training this morning in perfect conditions, a bit cool and light cloud cover but barely a breath of wind.
Training today consisted of various drills along with 3 or 4 quarters of full match practice lasting 15 - 20 minutes each.
Everyone took part except:
- Daniher who was the only player not sighted (apart from McBride and McQuilan still in isolation)
- Fantasia was running, doing some lateral movements and kicking. His quad must be at the very minor end of the scale to be doing so much already, expect him to miss no more than 1 or 2 matches
- Jones and Bryan who both did some work on the rehab ground before going inside the hanger and doing bike work
- Redman who was again on the sidelines for the whole session. I have no idea what the problem was but he’s now missed the last week of training and must be in doubt for round 2
- Cahill did a lot of running and some skills work on the rehab oval
- Gown was on the sidelines and didn’t train at all
- Johnson did a small amount of running on the rehab oval
- Draper spent the whole session on the rehab oval. He did a lot of running along with ruckwork and various non contact drills
- Snelling who competed in various drills on the second oval
- Hird who was absent with his foot problems
The match practice was a full field game amongst the remaining 34 players. It was played at a very high pace with good skill levels and intensity. Really it was the best session of the 2 pre seasons. A notable feature was the goal kicking, apart from some rushed behinds I can’t actually remember anyone missing a shot.
The game was played between teams in red and blue. In the first quarter that was played we all agreed it looked like the team in red would all likely be playing round 2, with 5 extra players coming from blue to make up the team. The reds were - McGrath, Bellchambers, Smith, Merrett, Shiel, Francis, Cutler, Ridley, Laverde, Hurley, Townsend, Heppell, Stringer, Hooker, Saad, Tippa and McKernan.
After the first quarter various players swapped sides to even up the contest and the reds were way too strong. The most pleasing thing was there were very few skill errors from either side and also very few that I thought played poorly or didn’t get involved much. Most of the play from both sides was through good cohesive teamwork and not forced by skill errors
Here’s a rundown of everyone’s performance:
- McGrath was in everything and looked very creative
- Bellchambers won most of the contests and took some nice marks around the ground
- Parish looked very sharp to me, seems to have increased his tempo from last year
- Langford had a very solid hitout. His decision making seems much better and is not overthinking things with the emphasis on the team moving the ball quickly
- Smith good his fair share of the ball and apart from one horrible kick to into the man on the mark was quite good
- Merrett had a typical game, a lot of possessions and used it well
- Gleeson I thought was a bit quiet
- Shiel put in another good effort, it’s great watching break away from packs
- Francis looks much more comfortable. He seems to be more involved and proactive when the ball isn’t in his area
- Zaharakis didn’t do too much special but no glaring mistakes either
- Cutler looks good, really integrating into the game style now
- Ridley had another solid composed effort at CHB
- Laverde was matched up on Ambrose and didn’t get too much of the ball
- Begley was possibly the quietest player, he had some opportunities to take marks but couldn’t make the most of them
- Stewart was matched up on Hurley and found it hard to mark but had some impressive efforts at ground level
- Hurley was very solid on Stewart and was being much more physical with his body work
- Mutch has a few involvements but not a standout
- Townsend had another good effort, again used his body well in marking contests and applied a lot of pressure
- Heppell looked very good and must be very close to full fitness. Pencil him in for round 2
- Mo22ie had quite a few involvements and is always creative when he gets it, although did get caught once trying to do too much
- Stringer - the Lazarus man. He went down with what looked to be a serious injury to his foot, and punched the ground in dismay before recovering 10 mintes later and playing in the second quarter, before finishing slightly earlier than the rest, probably precautionary. He was fantastic when playing possibly the best player.
- Hooker had a solid game in defense
- Ambrose wore Laverde like a glove, definitely had the best of the duel
- Zerk wasn’t involved much but I can’t recall any mistakes
- Ham had some very good moments, including a very solid mark on the wing and a great 100 metre play with a long kick and then taking the handpass from the resulting mark
- Phillips was probably just eclipsed by Bellchambers in ruck duals but did some nice work around the ground
- Guelfi had a typical game, got a few possesions and applied pressure
- Clarke also did some nice things but not one of the better midfielders
- Saad has an interesting matchup with Mo22ie, both players had good moments
- Tippa did what he normally does making the most of it when he got the ball. He didn’t kick any goals himself but set up others and was very creative
- McKernan was the best tall forward, made good position and took some nice marks
- McKenna was a little scratchy early but improved as the game went on and didn’t look out of place with the pace. With Redman doubtful he may be a chance to play round 2
- Hibberd took some very strong marks and while he didn’t get a heap of possessions he kicked 3 good goals. He certainly gave the selectors something to think about.
Overall I thought it was the perfect hitout in the leadup to our next match, hopefully there isn’t anything to worry about with Stringer.