By Matt Fotia
Belgrave’s first year Senior Coach Nathan Johns had to tweak his game-plan and structures after his sides round one loss to Monbulk and it paid immediate dividends as the Magpies knocked off Emerald by 21 points in their round two clash on Saturday.
Johns was pleased with his sides effort, intensity and pressure during the first round loss to Monbulk and felt that the Magpies had dominated possession and ‘the play’ for well over half of the game but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.
Since his appointment Johns had studied the form guide and found that his troops had one of the smaller forward lines in the Division, even with big man Xavier Pauli entering the fray.
“We needed to tweak a few things to make us more dangerous on the smaller grounds, especially our own home ground,”
“It was my first time coaching a game at Belgrave (in round one) and the way we structured up wasn’t ideal.”
Johns had Belgrave working on their connectivity between midfield and forwards throughout the week heading into the Emerald clash along with the re-structuring of their forward line.
He pushed his tall forwards much closer to goal and made sure that his best ball users were the ones delivering the final ball inside forward 50. The Magpies also made a conscious decision to stay wider for longer when moving the ball out of defence and changed their leading patterns and ‘hit up’ areas.
“How I want the boys to play, with our original structure, we are going to relish the bigger ground,”
“But we pride ourselves on our contest and tackling so that on the smaller grounds we will have an inside focus and enjoy our time on the bigger grounds,”
“It’s all a learning process for our boys.”
One of the Magpies boys that has impressed Johns has been mid-sized forward Joshua Richmond who has kicked five goals in his two games. Described by Johns as ‘a lean 6ft’2 bloke who moves well’, it’s the forwards’ ability at ground level that has been most impressive.
“I’ve been really impressed with his ground craft and Josh is a real leader on the training track and gets the most out of his game.”
Johns will need his squad to continue getting the most out of themselves as they host Warburton Millgrove this weekend. Johns has a close connection with the Burras through friends who have played at the club and other links.
He is expecting a tough game against Warburton Millgrove after they took it up to early season stars Doveton on the weekend as Johns and his Magpies look for rare back to back wins.
“Whoever can win the battle of the midfield and take advantage of the contest will go a long way to winning the game.”