By Matt Fotia
One half of the club fell out of the finals, whilst the other half jumped back in, making 2019 a middling season for Yarra Glen, as they recorded a collective record of 16 wins and 16 losses (including finals) for the year.
Here’s their 2019 review.
Position : 6th (8-8)
For : 1572 (Ranked #3)
Against : 1313 (Ranked #6)
Leading Goal Kicker : Jiemba Smith (29)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : Like Yarra Junction, the River Pigs are blessed with a strong core group of midfielders – especially inside midfielders – whom they can look to build their side around.
With the likes of Daniel Hurley, Billy Gardner, Ben Ashton, Jayden Schille, Tim Ekers and Lachlan Telford all capable of operating through the middle of the ground and Austin Smith and Blake Binion providing the ability to run all day on the outside, the River Pigs can match any midfield in the Division, and maybe a couple in the Division above.
Whilst they might be caught a bit short at either end of the ground, they don’t have any worries through the middle of the ground, and luckily for them, that’s usually the place that you start these mini rebuilds they might find themselves going through.
What went wrong : The River Pigs will be rueing their inconsistency throughout 2019.
Some weekends they looked like genuine contenders for the Premiership and on others they looked completely second rate.
They were one of just two sides to knock off Seville for the season, but also suffered a loss at the hands of Alexandra, the only win the Rebels managed against sides outside cellar dwellers of Yea and Thornton Eildon.
Couple that loss with some poor results against Powelltown and Gembrook – Cockatoo to finish the season and you’ve found the reason that the River Pigs missed the 2019 Finals Series.
What they need : Pretty much the same as last year. The River Pigs need to find some tall talent and they need to find it at both ends of the ground.
Up forward Jiemba Smith and Will Goodwin performed well throughout the season and had stand out games, but are likely to be more useful and/or dangerous as the second and third talls, whilst Nathan McCulloch needs a friend in defence.
Josh Clare has filled a hole down back (and sometimes up forward), but like Smith and Goodwin, his output would be more useful as an intercept defender, using his athletic prowess to good effect.
If the River Pigs can find a big body for either end of the ground (and they may have already found one in Heath Chamberlain from Chirnside Park) they might find themselves shooting straight up into Premiership contention once again.
Grade – C –
Missing Finals isn’t good enough for a club like Yarra Glen in Division Two, so don’t expect them to miss again in 2020.
Position : 4th (7-7) & Semi Final
For : 657 (#5)
Against : 636 (#4)
Leading Goal Shooter : Alicia Mortley (367)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : Overall, 2019 was a pretty big success for Yarra Glen on the netball court, as all four of their senior teams finished in the top five at the end of the home and away season.
For their A Grader’s, who returned to September action in 2019, the Elimination Final win over Yarra Junction and their unlikely one goal victory over Yea during the regular season will be highlights as the club showed large overall progression across the entire season.
A big tick for the new coach.
What went wrong : The River Pigs struggled a little going forwards in 2019, ranked fifth for goals scored, a fair distance behind the top three in terms of goals scored.
Their total of 657, was 64 goals less than Kinglake, 168 behind Seville’s total and 183 worse off than eventual premiers Yea. On an individual note, Alicia Mortley was the most consistent of their goalers with 367 goals, but even she was well off the pace when compared to the top shooters in the Division.
Her total 123 goals less than Kinglake’s Billie Cvijetic (who finished on 490, behind Seville’s Jackie Cullimore – 499 and Yea’s Melissa Martinov – 602) at an average of seven goals less per game.
An area for improvement in 2020.
What they need : The River Pigs shouldn’t look to actively recruit to fix the above problem however. Of course if a known goal shooter falls in their lap, by all means use it to their advantage, but they need to focus on that overall progression of the club that they begun so well this season.
With Seville on the up and Warburton Millgrove on the way down it’ll be hard to know if they’re a better chance of climbing up the A Grade ladder or not, but they can’t find themselves obsessing over that.
Keep focusing on the development of their lower grades and look to build for the long term.
Grade – A
A return to finals and consistency across the grades will see some smiles on Yarra Glen faces. They’ll look to take another step in 2020.