By Matt Fotia
Wandin young gun Patrick Hodgett has given the Dogs finals chances a massive shot in the arm, after his five goal haul inspired their come from behind 16 point victory over Beaconsfield this Saturday, 17.9 (111) to 13.17 (95).
The Dogs remain in sixth place on the Premier Division ladder but now sit just two points behind fifth placed Cranbourne, after they kicked 16 goals to nine after quarter time completing a 126 point swing against Beaconsfield in the process.
Wandin lost their round three, four and five games to Beaconsfield, Cranbourne and Narre Warren by a combined total of 326 points, struggling to adapt to the home grounds of their new counterparts.
Coach Nick Adam said he and his side were embarrassed by their efforts down the highway in the earlier part of the season and had spoken about the opportunities that the return legs would hold for them.
“We were embarrassed by what we produced on the bigger grounds and talked all week about the opportunities that were going to present themselves over the coming weeks and this was the first one,”
“We knew the size of the ground wasn’t going to do it for us.”
The Dogs, like many sides, have encountered a number of injuries throughout the 2019 season which have forced other players to play different roles when required.
Clint Johnston was impressive in the ruck on Saturday, filling the boots of Michael Fowkes, whilst young pup Hodgett continued to grow into his role as one of the Dog’s key forwards. In recent times, with injuries to big names Justin Van Unen and Daniel Gorringe, Hodgett has become the focal point down forward.
Whilst he was back to being third wheel this weekend, Hodgett still managed to change the game kicking four goals in the second quarter to put Wandin in front at half time.
“Pat Hodgett was an interesting one,”
“We tried to get (Jake) Bowd to him because we were conscious of what Bowd does in the air and he (Bowd) ended up being taken off him because Pat had taken him to the cleaners in the second quarter,”
“It was really good reward for Patty, we know what he can do and obviously he’s the third wheel in a pretty good forward line, but he had a day out on the weekend.”
The Dogs are getting closer to returning to full strength with the aforementioned Fowkes and midfielder John Ladner expected to return to the field this weekend, the time slot yet to be confirmed.
With confidence building, Adam and the Dogs want to finish the season strongly and give themselves a chance to do something special in September, much like they did in 2018, where they charged home at the backend of the regular season before going on to claim the premiership.
“We want to win out (the season), we have Cranbourne and Narre Warren at home and then three Valley sides to finish off, so thats the aim,”
“But it’s about creating an opportunity to play in September,”
“I’d love to give ourselves an opportunity – six weeks to go last year I think we were fourth, but we got fit and healthy at the backend of the year and who’s to say we can’t do it again,”
“That’s the attitude we always have.”