What a way to enter the new Outer East era, with a six-point thriller between Berwick and Narre Warren in front of a packed house at Edwin Flack Reserve.
In what was a cracking day for sport in general, those in attendance were treated to a tight tussle with the biggest margin still well under 20 points. But what can we takeaway from this weekend? How good are these two sides? Are they the clear front runners? What’s their style?
Don’t stress – you’ve come to the right place. Here’s three takeaways from this weekend.
1 – Magpie Slingshots.
In nature – the Magpie or ‘Swoopy Boi’ usually attacks its opponent by swopping down from above. It’s bloody and scary and quite a dominant showing. But not these Narre Warren Magpies. The Magpies scored most of their goals from turnovers in the defensive half before slingshotting the ball forward in a counter attacking style.
The problem for Narre Warren on the weekend was their inability to hit targets moving forward to make the most of this game style. Unless classy midfielder Trent Cody was the one with Sherrin in hand, the likelihood of the ball finding its target was substantially lower than that of their opponents. This should improve throughout the season and so should Narre – but whether this slingshot tactic will be effective on smaller grounds is definitely an interesting proposition.
2 – Missing Links.
It’s been well noted that most of the South Eastern venues in the Outer East are much larger than the tight confides of some grounds in the Yarra Valley region . Whilst this allows skilful running players more space to show their talents, and should mean some more high scoring affairs, it does make the role of the half-forward much more important.
Neither side this weekend was able to find a successful link man, someone akin to Tom Lynch (Adelaide Crows) and Jack Gunston in the AFL. Narre Warren would’ve expected more from Mitchell Cox and Michael Collins in this role. To often they had to turn to Aaron Wilson to fill the role, despite him looking like tier most dangerous deep forward.
Berwick seemed to have originally planned for Jordy Andrews to play that role or Andrew Morozoff and Tim Gunn. Andrews was especially quiet until the last quarter and Morozoff often had to go way to far up the ground to collect the football.
This lack of link men meant the half backs for both sides were able to run rampant in terms of collecting possessions. Berwick made more of this opportunity with Frankston VFL listed Will Arthurton and Nick Hillard finding a lot of the football. Clubs heading to the big wide expanses need to get their half-forward working overtime to make the most of it.
3 – Time and Money.
You would’ve been forgiven for missing Harrison Money at the centre bounce, despite him lining up at full forward for the Wickers. The diminutive forward has none of the attributes that a usual full forward exudes.
That is until the ball comes nearby. Whenever Berwick moved the ball forwards, they were drawn to kick towards the Number 10. Often it was a good decision as Money was rarely beaten on the ground or in the air – despite his lack of height.
Money is very willing to lock arms and grapple in one on one contests rather than use his speed on the lead, and like all flashy ‘small’ key forwards he has the urge to stand on people’s shoulders.
He was kept relatively quiet in the first half kicking just two behinds but managed two goals in both the third and fourth quarters, with his last two goals coming within a minute of each other to take the game away from Narre Warren.
Apparently this is a common occurrence for Money – he eats the big moments for breakfast.
And it looks like there will be plenty of big moments for Berwick this season.