Four points – Essendon Bombers

The Williamstown Seagulls got their first television appearance of the season on Saturday afternoon and didn’t disappoint with a 44-point statement victory over the Essendon Bombers at Burbank Oval.

1. Collins half-time spray – I’d love to know what Andy said to the side at half time. There appeared no way back at half time with the side lacking confidence going forward, confidence that had been a trademark of their IMG_1688performances all year. The third quarter was a quarter for the ages. It not only showed why every other team in the league should be scared of what the Seagulls can do, but it demonstrated the philosophy that Collins is working towards.

2. Wet weather footy – With Burbank heavy underfoot, possessions were more vital than ever on Saturday. For Andy Collins the message at the first break was to handball rather than use the short kick. The Seagulls had 85 more disposals on Saturday, out-handballing the Bombers 149-78.  Moving the ball by hand caught the Bombers off guard and allowed the home side to stretch their dominance.

3. Accuracy in front of goal – 28 scoring shots for the Seagulls has been fairly standard this year (The only times they’ve had less were the Northern Blues in round one (25) Werribee in round five (24) and Box Hill in round ten (20)), but what they did with the scoring shots was vital. 20 goals and eight behinds is enough to ensure you’re going to pick up the points every week. With a potential percentage booster looming against the winless Frankston this Saturday, the Seagulls will be hoping for a repeat performance to climb back to the top of the ladder.

4. Family fun – I’m not talking the family fun activities that are on for the kids every week. With school holidays being on my parents were down for a visit and it was great to take my dad to his first Williamstown game after sharing many a spirited discussion about the club on the phone since I started attending games. The result helped but he came away from the day impressed with how everything unfolded. I’d say that’s a big win.

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Plenty of positives despite Seagulls first loss

The Williamstown Seagulls fell to Port Melbourne on Sunday by two points. Despite the loss to their biggest rival, all is not lost.

After the first month of VFL action the Seagulls top the ladder on percentage and will go a game clear with a victory over local rivals Werribee on Sunday afternoon.

Sam Critchley had two crucial goals on Sunday

Sam Critchley had two crucial goals on Sunday

Let’s not mistake Port Melbourne for something they aren’t. They are one of the best sides in the competition and they showed that when it counted on Sunday afternoon.

The home side were unable to capitalise on the howling breeze in the 4th quarter, kicking just 2.5, while Port kicked three straight goals to hang on for the victory, but for the Borough it was more than kicking that got them across the line.

Gary Ayers, coaching in his 150th game pulled no punches at the final change telling his side that to secure victory they needed to find the boundary frequently in the final quarter. They did, coming away with four points as a result.

Outside of sitting atop the standings how can this loss be spun as a positive for the Seagulls?

  • Sam Dunell finding his feet – A four goal afternoon with three coming in the second quarter is further evidence that Dunell is fitting in nicely with his new side. He’s also been vocal in the quarter time and three quarter time huddles, showing his leadership capabilities.
  • Clearance struggles – Sixteen behinds doesn’t make for great reading. Port Melbourne struggling to get the ball out of their defensive 50 from the majority of kick-ins does. The technique employed by Andy Collins is simple, spoil and spoil often. This leads to repeated score opportunities which will inevitably win games.
  • Possession – Eight players with more than 15 touches – Ben Jolley with his fourth 20+ possession game of the season.
  • Effective entries – 46 inside 50s (30 for scoring shots) compared to 55 inside 50s for Port (22 for scoring shots).
  • Fueling the fire – There is nothing worse than taking on a team who are coming off an agonising loss (See Melbourne and Sydney from last Saturday night). Seagulls fans get a trip to Werribee this weekend, a club with whom there is a spiteful history, with a merger threat in the mid 1990’s bringing the rivalry to boiling point. The Tigers should be wary of what they are going to face this week.

Four Points – North Ballarat Roosters

Williamstown held on to their spot at the top of the VFL standings with a convincing 81-point victory over the North Ballarat Roosters on Saturday.

1. Defensive pressure – The Roosters had 14 scoring shots for the day and would have fallen 23 points short of the Seagulls should the visitors have remained scoreless in the second half. The pressure from the Seagulls was highlighted by their willingness to lay tackles when the Roosters had the ball in their attacking 50. This lead to numerous turnovers, which lead to scoring opportunities at the other end.

North Ballarat is a beautiful setting for footy

North Ballarat is a beautiful setting for footy

2. Collins’ sixth sense – The 1/4 time and 3/4 time huddles offer great insight into what you can expect to see when the sides take the field again. I was at the North Ballarat huddle at the first change and the message was clear from Roosters coach Gerard Fitzgerald – “Don’t use the far side of the ground because it is wasting space. If they use it in the second quarter hang back 15-20 metres”. The message from Collins must have stated the direct opposite as the second quarter saw the visitors utilise the space they were given on the far side of the field. This helped the Seagulls set up a commanding lead in the process as they kicked 7.6 (48) to 0.1 (1) in the second quarter.

3. Going up the guts – Success at home comes from using the wings, but success came in Ballarat through going through the corridor.  The speed of Anastasio, Jolley, Clouston and Dunell was on show all day as they transitioned through the centre of the midfield, making their respective opponents look two steps slower in the process. This speed helped open a flood of options in the forward 50, which inevitably lead to 36 scoring shots throughout the afternoon.

4. The best away day in the league – This isn’t a point that helped in the victory, but certainly something that should be talked about. With Bendigo out of the league, the trip to Ballarat is the most authentic road trip of the season for visiting fans. For the second straight season I jumped on the bus, and for the second straight year was treated to a great day out. Bistro food and high-class football from the Seagulls at a stadium which offers great vantage points for fans is a great showing for why every VFL fan should experience a game in Ballarat. I know when the 2016 fixture comes out this will be the first away game in my calendar.