By Matt Fotia
That’s why Beaconsfield dropped the first two games of the 2019 season according to senior coach Leigh McQuillen, after his side got on the winners list at the third time of asking, defeating Wandin by 110 points on Saturday.
Just in time for this weekends much anticipated Battle of the Creek against Berwick.
The Eagles went down to Cranbourne by 21 points in round one, despite having a big quarter time lead and even after a much better performance against Narre Warren they were unable to grab the chocolates, losing by eight points.
McQuillen was disappointed at the way his sides defence fell apart after the first interval in round one and Beacy used the extended break between games to analyse footage. The defensive end was better against Narre Warren but his troops weren’t able to give the four quarter effort the match demanded.
They definitely put in a four quarter performance against Wandin, winning every quarter by a minimum of 18 points and completely shutting the usually free scoring Dogs out, keeping them to just three goals.
As to why his boys couldn’t give a four quarter performance in the opening two rounds, McQuillen cites his sides tendency to mental drift away from the process.
“It’s certainly not a fitness thing, I think it’s all based on our mindset, because we are such a young group and they just tuned out of the game at the wrong times and they need to be better than that, age isn’t an excuse anymore.”
To address the issue McQuillen and his coaching staff took the ad nauseam approach, repeating very similar messages at each of the breaks against the Dogs.
“This week we had a focus of resetting at each break and repeating what we spoke about pre-game and what we wanted to do.”
In 2019, what Beaconsfield want to do is slightly different to previous seasons due to a necessary evolution, injury and list changes. The Eagles were the lowest scoring side in the SEFNL top four last season, but they’re averaging 92.3 points a game in 2019 with a new look forward line.
In the recent past Beaconsfield have been a tall forward line, but McQuillen has backed in his youth, changed their attacking ball movement and has added some speed into the forward line. Riley Verbi (5 goals in 2 games) and Matthew Johnson (7 in 2) are benefitting the most from this new style.
The defensive side of this new forward structure will be put to the test this weekend, as they look to halt the rebounding power of Berwick’s Will Arthurson, Ash Smith and Nick Hillard. Whilst McQuillen has the utmost respect for the Wickers midfielders he is confident in his sides ability to ‘at least breakeven’ in that department and is more fearful of their swashbuckling half back line.
“Their back half has been so good in recent years sweeping it out of there, launching attacks and swinging it to the fat side,”
“They haven’t changed much (personnel wise) down back, but we’re hoping our new forward line can bring a change in the result.”
Berwick won all three of the sides clashes in 2018, with the closest margin 17 points in round 12. Dynamic forward Harrison Money kicked four on that day and managed six goals in the three games against the Eagles last season. To date in 2019 he already has 15 in three.
McQuillen says he, his defensive line coach and the defenders have watched plenty of Money footage and believe it will be a team effort to keep the flashy number 10 quiet.
“He’s unique and really hard to find a one on one match up for – we’ve done a lot of work on him this week,”
“Look it’s (Money’s influence) is about the quality of the ball coming in, but in saying that he’s the kind of bloke who only needs a metre of space and he’s standing on your head,”
“It’ll be a team defensive effort – all the way up the ground.”
In terms of what this game and this opponent means to the players and the club, the Eagles are well versed with every player, new or not, educated on the subject.
“All our players go through a quick history lesson at the start of the season and the importance of this game is embedded into it, this is the biggest home and away game of the year for us, the two clubs have great mutual respect for each other,”
“But we literally don’t like each other.”
The Beaconsfield mastermind will be continuing his quarter by quarter method this weekend as he aims to buck the recent trend against the Wickers.
“We’ll stick with the quarter by quarter approach for our guys, focus not on what just happened, but more on what we want to do next quarter and how we’re going to do it,”
“We won’t beat Berwick unless we play four quarters because you just don’t beat good sides without playing a full game,”
“This game will be on for the full 120 minutes.”
You can catch the Battle of the Creek on Yarra Valley FM (99.1) and oetv.com.au from 1:30pm on Saturday.