KILMORE football coach Nathan Phillips has challenged his team to respond on the training track and during this Saturday’s game against Lalor after a disappointing Northern Football Netball League division three loss to South Morang at the weekend.
The Blues scored a breakthrough away victory against the Lions earlier this season but could not repeat the feat at home on Saturday, going down 6.5 (41) to 11.9 (75).
Although Kilmore remained within striking distance, trailing by 11 points at the final change, the visitors blew them away with six goals to two in the final frame.
Despite the persistent efforts of midfielders like Chris Ryall, Chris Barton and Leigh Irons, Phillips lamented the latitude his side gave the South Morang opposition for most of the afternoon.
“They were just prepared to work harder, plain and simple,” he said.
“Their work-rate was there and they made the most of their chances when they presented themselves, and we didn’t get many chances because we didn’t work hard enough.
“We were too reactive and too happy to be second to the footy and give our opponents a metre, sagging off when we should have been playing tighter. If you serve that up against a good side you’re not going to come away with the points.”
One bright spot for the Blues was the performance of Ethan Derrick, who was recast as a forward excelling in the back half for most of the year.
Derrick kicked a goal and missed two other opportunities, showing himself capable of becoming a swingman.
Phillips suggested a lack of commitment on the training track was starting to become evident in Kilmore’s on-field results.
“The Kilmore winter is getting cold and there are starting to be too many excuses for not being able to train. That is starting to show a bit,” he said.
But Phillips said he was far from despairing and that his team was still capable of winning this year’s premiership.
“There is still plenty of time left to make amends, which is good. If we’re going to have a bad patch, it’s better to be having it now rather than heading into finals,” he said.
“The boys just need to understand that we can’t be half-arsed about it and expect to beat the good sides.
“If you don’t think you can win a flag you’re wasting your time, aren’t you? The boys definitely have the talent there, we’ve just got to make sure we’re performing on game day.”
Phillips said that commitment to performing would need to start during this weekend’s road game against Lalor, which was winless this season.
“It’s hard to come off a loss, no disrespect to Lalor, against a side that hasn’t won a game yet. We’ve got to make sure we’re up for it and not just go into it thinking we’re going to get the job done. We need to make sure we right all the wrongs from this week gone,” he said.
Midfielder Luke Chapman and forward Scott Swindells have both missed multiple weeks with injuries but could return this weekend, although Phillips said they would be rested unless they were 100 per cent fit. Ciaran Barton is also likely to miss after rolling his ankle against the Lions.
Improving Eagles given lesson
It was a tough day at the office for Whittlesea, which was soundly beaten by top-of-the-ladder Heidelberg in Saturday’s division one game.
While the 7.3 (45) to 18.20 (128) loss was far from ideal for the Eagles, it represented an improvement on their 142-point defeat at the hands of the Tigers in round four.
After a disappointing 11-goals-to-one first half, Whittlesea dug its heels in, scoring six goals to Heidelberg’s seven after the long break.
Full back Brody Bell was a standout for the visitors, with fellow defenders Steven Dempsey and Lachlan Beattie, as well as ruckman Sam Indian, also among the best.
Whittlesea will be at home to Bundoora on Saturday, looking for another improved effort on the 70-point defeat the Bulls dished out in round five.