2016 Williamstown Seagulls fixture analysis

The VFL draw has been released and the Williamstown Seagulls are looking for back-to-back premierships for the first time since 1958-59. What does the draw hold?

Round 1: RICHMOND (HOME) – The Seagulls have a relatively kind draw for the season opener, hosting the Tigers, a side they easily accounted for in 2015. A comfortable win should follow.index

Round 2: BOX HILL (HOME) – The premiership flag will unfurled against the side the Seagulls dominated to win their first flag in twelve years. Box Hill have the credentials of a top four side and this game will have some niggle.

Round 3: CASEY (AWAY) – A night game awaits the Seagulls on their first 2016 away trip. Casey will fancy themselves as a chance if they can regain the form that saw them sneak into the finals last season.

Round 4: PORT MELBOURNE (HOME) – The Mothers Day clash at Burbank will, as always, be a clash for the ages. Last Mothers Day the Seagulls fell a kick short and will be looking to turn the tables on their oldest rival.

Round 5: WERRIBEE (AWAY) – There’s a certain symmetry to the Seagulls traveling to Werribee the week after playing Port at home. The week after their stinging loss to Port, the Towners suffered the same result by the same margin against the Tigers. This result will be lingering in the memories of the visitors.

Round 6: NORTHERN BLUES (HOME) – The Blues gave the Seagulls a scare in the first week of 2015 but don’t expect to see that result repeated. The Seagulls will be far too strong for an undermanned Blues outfit.

Round 7: COLLINGWOOD (AWAY) – The most frustrating away fixture simply because it is being played at the Holden Centre rather than Victoria Park. The Pies will be as strong as ever in what could be a great contest.

Round 8:  STATE GAME – SANFL VS VFL – This would be a great afternoon at the Adelaide Oval. One thing is for sure, there will be Seagulls players pulling on the Big V.

Round 9: FOOTSCRAY (AWAY) – The Queen’s Birthday Eve clash will hopefully have better weather than the 2015 game. This game is also likely to be the only game featuring the Seagulls stunning yellow kit they wore as they won their second Foxtel Cup in 2014.

Round 10: FRANKSTON (HOME) – The Dolphins are going to be a better team in 2015. Are they going to be good enough to get a result against the Seagulls on the road? Probably not. A good percentage boosting opportunity heading into the bye.

Round 11: BYE

Round 12: GEELONG (HOME) – The Cats are the perfect opponent for the Seagulls to face coming out of the bye. A refreshed outfit should be too much for the Cats.

Round 13: NORTH BALLARAT (HOME) –This will be the first time North Ballarat have played at Burbank Oval since Round 14 2012. Burbank Oval is a difficult place to play at the best of times and the Roosters face a tough task to get the points.

Round 14: BOX HILL (AWAY) – This could be the toughest game of the season for the Seagulls. Box Hill are going to be a top four team and this game will go a long way to deciding the look of the ladder come finals.

Round 15: COBURG (HOME) – Coburg will be much improved from a 2015 campaign that saw them in the winners column on just seven occasion. A potential bogey game if approached with the wrong mindset.

Round 16: PORT MELBOURNE (AWAY) – The trip across the bridge generates a tense atmosphere at North Port Oval. The Borough will be in the mix for a finals place so this one could go either way.

Round 17: SANDRINGHAM (AWAY) – Seagulls fans and players alike will be hoping for less heart complications than were delivered in the 2015 Qualifying Final. It’s tough to see how the Zebras won’t be aiming for some payback from the above result.

Round 18: FOOTSCRAY (HOME) – In what shapes as their toughest month of the season the Seagulls are going to need to find a way past a very strong Footscray side. The Dogs got across the line last time these sides met at Burbank, with poor kicking plaguing the home side, who managed a limp 1.7 in the final term of that clash.

Round 19: ESSENDON (AWAY) – A trip to Windy Hill could be a threat. It’s likely that Essendon will be depleted all season, but much like the clash against Coburg, it’s all about mindset.

Round 20: NORTHERN BLUES (AWAY) – If everything goes to plan a top two spot will be wrapped up by the final game of the season for Williamstown, an honour that has eluded the side since the 2011 season. This is a must win game with their second bye of the season in round 21.

Round 21: BYE


Season prediction – There are no games for the Seagulls that are worse than 50-50 in 2015. Worst case scenario the Seagulls go 12-6, best case scenario 17-1. I think they’ll end up somewhere in the middle going 15-3 and securing the Minor Premiership.


Seagulls survive charging Zebras

The Williamstown Seagulls are through to their sixth straight preliminary final, a tally unmatched across the Victorian Football League. Their seven point victory against the Sandringham Zebras was enough to send the blood pressure of Seagulls fans through the roof. How did the emotions play out?


First quarter:

  • Okay, we’re kicking with the wind, we need at least five goals.IMG_2093
  • Great, they won the first clearance, just get rid of the ball…. We can’t afford to fall behind. Phew.
  • A few quick goals. Very nice.
  • We’re kicking straight. That was a big concern especially with this cyclonic wind.
  • Why didn’t anyone tell me that this place was colder than Burbank Oval?
  • We’re three goals up but they’re attacking, just concede a behind, reset and attack.
  • We’ve held them out and added a few late goals. I’m happy.
  • 5.4.34 – 0.0.0. Can’t complain about that.

Second Quarter:

  • One goal would be nice here.
  • Sandy aren’t taking advantage of this wind.
  • Can we just clear the ball to the centre for a breather?
  • This is the best resistance I’ve seen since the Chinese put up the great wall to keep the rabbits out.
  • I knew I shouldn’t have said that, two quick goals.
  • We’ve scored into the wind. That’s crucial.
  • A few late goals – not ideal but a good lead to have with the wind.
  • 7.4.46 – 4.5.29. A huge third quarter will seal it.

Third Quarter:

  • A slow start isn’t ideal.
  • There’s the goal that’s broken the seal.
  • This is going exactly like I hoped it would.
  • How about our accuracy?
  • Sandy fans seem a bit frustrated that they lost Sam Dunell last year – some colourful words being thrown at him.
  • It would have been nice to keep them without a goal but we’ll get it back.
  • A late flood on the scoreboard. Very nice, surely we can’t lose from here.
  • My post-game beer at Mrs. Parma’s is going to be nice as I contemplate a week off.
  • 13.6.84 – 5.6.36. Done. Even if Sandy have a great last quarter they’re not getting within three goals.

Fourth Quarter:

  • One goal will seal it.
  • We need to use the flanks better – so much space, so little opportunity.
  • Clear the ball.
  • 2 goals isn’t that bad, they can’t get seven more.
  • The Zebras are doing a fantastic job at keeping the ball out of our hands.
  • More goals. Let’s just block it up.
  • Thank god they’re not kicking well.
  • They’re getting too close for my liking.
  • Wait. How is this happening?
  • I really am going to need this beer.
  • Eight points up?
  • Check twitter for time elapsed.
  • Seven points
  • Check twitter for time elapsed.
  • Clearance to the centre where there’s not a man for miles.
  • Check twitter. 32 minutes gone.
  • They’re loading up again, WHERE IS THE SIREN?
  • There it is.
  • YES.
  • What a display. Week off. Reload. Get it done.
  • Now, how long until that beer?

Nothing beats sport.

Soaring Seagulls – Comparing 2014 and 2015 chances

There are just two games left in the Victorian Football League home and away season. Those two games could see Williamstown finish anywhere between 1st and 7th. After five straight preliminary finals appearances are the Seagulls ready to win their first premiership in twelve years? The numbers from this time last year and the current group add insight into the debate.

2014 (after 18 rounds) – Record: 12-4 / Percentage: 138.46% / Scoring: 234 goals 216 behinds / Longest streak: 5 game win streak / Longest streak: 4 X 1 game losing streaks / Average score for: 101.25 / Average score against: 73.12.

Many VFL experts tipped a tough year for the Seagulls. Their first year after the split from the Western Bulldogs, a relatively small forward line and a lack of depth were highlighted as the key issues. Through 18 rounds and heading into the finals the Seagulls had shown that they were genuine contenders who could match it with anyone if they were given the chance.

Big wins over Footscray, Collingwood and Richmond in the first month of the season set the Seagulls up for a season where they wouldn’t lose two games in a row.

Their four losses were spread over the first two-thirds of the season, enabling the Seagulls to enter the finals on a five Seagulls logogame tear, where they would ultimately lose two of three games, bowing out with a devastating seven point loss to the Box Hill Hawks.

Ben Jolley, Adam Marcon and Kane Lambert were the lynchpins for Williamstown as they pushed towards a top four berth, eventually finishing third on percentage after Footscray beat Richmond after the siren at Punt Road in their final home and away clash.

2015 (after 18 rounds) – Record: 12-4 / Percentage: 142.77% / Scoring: 228 goals 241 behinds /  Longest streak: 5 game win streak / Longest streak: 2 game losing streak / Average score for: 100.56 / Average score against 70.43.

Kane Lambert was off to Richmond and mixed feelings were prominent by the bay. On one hand Lambert had reached his dream of being drafted by an AFL outfit, on the other – who could possibly replace the speedy goal-sneak? Since I’m asking the question the answer is Anthony Anastasio (and also really obvious).

Three straight wins before a pair of two point losses to Port Melbourne and Werribee showed yet again that the Seagulls were going to be a force to be reckoned with. Since then the Seagulls are undefeated on the road, with a narrow loss to Footscray and a hammering against  Hawthorn, sorry, Box Hill, the only other blemishes on an otherwise commanding season.

The 2015 Seagulls have offered a great variety. While Jolley and Marcon have been important the likes of Dunell, Bese, Carr, Carr, Lockwood and Banner and Critchley are making up the bulk of the BOG every week. That’s why opponents need to be scared, you can shut down one guy but someone else will pop up and do their job (see Anastasio against Collingwood or Dunell against Casey).

The Seagulls have won six of their last seven and nine of their last eleven. With a very winnable fixture against Werribee on Saturday and a potential Minor Premiership deciding clash against Box Hill remaining, it is feasible that the Seagulls enter the finals winning eleven from thirteen.

The Verdict – The numbers and the stories of the respective seasons are near identical. So which year has more potential? You don’t need to mention any more than the words “Box Hill” to get most Williamstown fans fired up, so it’s fitting that a trip to the City Oval is where the Seagulls end one phase of their 2015 journey.

If you ask Andy Collins I don’t think he’d give too much away, it’s not who he is. Rather than who he is, it is valuable to think about what Collins is – a year more experienced. He’s had the chance to find and craft players into the system and the record speaks for itself.

The numbers say that the two years are the same as I write, but numbers can lie. Four losses this year? Three of those have been by a combined total of fifteen points. That’s a number that is impossible to ignore. The Seagulls don’t lose heavily (even in 2014 the biggest loss was 27 points), so if you aren’t switched on for the entire four quarters you’re going to pay the price.

The 2014 side were good enough to win the flag.

The 2015 side are good enough to win the flag.

The current crop have the extra touch of calmness under pressure that was missing in 2014 which leads me to the following conclusion (after a great deal of research).

The 2015 side are going to go at least one step further than the 2014 team.

Four points – Collingwood Magpies

The Seagulls and Magpies were caught in trench warfare for the first three quarters at Burbank Oval on Sunday afternoon. A seven goal final term turned a four point three quarter time lead into a 32 point victory, ensuring they remain top of the Victorian Football League ladder for another week.

1. I see Red, I see Red, I see Red – Sunday was in no uncertain terms the Anthony Anastasio show and what a pleasure it was to watch. The pocket rocket was instrumental in the victory, with five goals, 22 disposals, a tackle, a few assists (including giving away an opportunity to kick what would have been his sixth goal) and the ability to get under the skin of his opponent. The stats are what they are – phenomenal.  The niggle is what impressed me the IMG_1859most. He was able to niggle without doing anything which is going to see him which would put him in danger of missing a game and like most little blokes, his pest status resonated with multiple Magpie players. At one stage in the third quarter he was jammed between two Collingwood players (after kicking a goal), both of whom were trying to gain a reaction, but in typical Red fashion he darted away leaving the Magpies more frustrated.  Having a player like Anastasio who can throw the opponents off task is going to be vital in the lead in to the finals and what looks like it could be a minor premiership deciding clash against Box Hill in the last round of the home and away season.

2. Countering the Magpie strength – Within the first five minutes of the game the Magpies had asserted their dominance in the defensive 50. (At least) Six uncontested marks for the Magpies in first quarter was vital in restricting the Seagulls to a pair of behinds in the first time. This caused the Seagulls to change from the more direct route they had taken to shorter passes and a greater weight of handballs. As they scoreboard showed, the move paid off, with the Seagulls clawing to within two points at the main change.

3. Two hands on the ball – Ball security is always important. In the conditions that were offered on Sunday (sun, overcast, a light breeze, blowing a gale and a touch of rain in the final term) it was a factor that changed the momentum on several occasions. Where the home side, with their knowledge of the conditions focused on locking the ball in and going to the men in space, the visitors played fast and loose, at their peril., most notably the turnover goal from their half forward line in the third quarter.

4. Keeping calm under pressure – Throughout the first three quarters the Magpies held a two goal or more lead on two occasions. In a game where the two teams combined for 14 goals across the first three quarters, it was a lead that could have set the Magpies up for a much needed victory. The ability of the home side to stay cool in the face of game changing pressure was vital, as was their ability to release the pressure valve in the final term.

Four Points – Port Melbourne

The Williamstown Seagulls exacted a small piece of revenge on Port Melbourne after Port scraped past the Seagulls by two points earlier in the season.

1. Beating the old enemy – There’s nothing better than beating your biggest rival. The ten goal margin puts the icing on the cake. The fact that the win (in conjunction with a Box Hill loss, cheers Werribee) puts the Seagulls back on the top of the ladder could be a huge turning point for the season.index

2. Timing is everything – With a ten goal margin of victory Seagulls fans could be forgiven for thinking it was an easy day at the office. Goals in response to Port Melbourne goals, as well as goals either side of the siren were vital in establishing the comfortable scoreline.

3. Winning at North Port – North Port is to the VFL what the MCG is to the AFL. If you can’t when there you aren’t going to win premierships. Walking back into the ground on Saturday I got a chill from the memory of last September. In saying that I think that’s a game confined to the memory banks of the players involved. The comfort shown on Saturday can only mean positive steps come September.

4. Stand and Deliver – If there’s one thing I’d like to see at Burbank Oval it’s having the song played after a win. In saying that the PA system isn’t the greatest, so I can understand the logistics behind it. It was great to hear the song played at North Port (albeit quietly) after the huge win.

Four points – Frankston Dolphins

The Williamstown Seagulls won their third straight game to return to the top of the Victorian Football League ladder. A 107-point victory over the winless Frankston Dolphins served as a great opportunity for the side to flex their muscle.

1. Dominance amid pressure – It’s tough to imagine a team that racks up 107-point win being dominated but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. Frankston dominated the second half of the second quarter, and time on IMG_1732in both the third and fourth quarters. Despite their dominance the Dolphins were only able to put five goals on the Seagulls in that period.

What the Seagulls did while under pressure was absorb the Frankston pressure by not allowing them to have a free man. Not only did this limit the Frankston scoring but it also enabled the Seagulls to reduce the amount of time the Dolphins dominated through creating turnovers.

2. Goals, Goals, Goals – 21 goals and seven multiple goalkickers. Conway and Marcon (4), Casley, Anistasio, Masters, Gallucci and Monk (2) showed why the rest of the VFL should be wary of facing the high-flying Seagulls.

Gibbons, Dunell, Meese and Jolley all went goalless. When factoring in the ability they can have in front of goal, one thing is for sure – The Seagulls prolific scoring is going to continue for the remainder of 2015.

3. Exploiting the opposition – With no disrespect to the opponent, the gap between the two sides on Saturday was likely to be the biggest you’ll see in a VFL clash this year. The gulf in ability between the two sides showed from the first bounce, allowing the Seagulls to set the tone for the afternoon in the early stages of the clash.

The Seagulls were faster, more skillful and showed greater composure when pressure was applied. At the end of the day that was the difference between the two teams.

4. Eyes on the scoreboard – As well as hoping for a percentage boosting win (which occurred), there was one eye on the scoreboard at Box Hill. The Hawks (who have a game in hand) were locked in a tight contest with North Ballarat, and a win to the Roosters would shake up the finals picture. Box Hill prevailed with a goal after the siren, but have shown in the process they are not invincible.

With the bye this weekend all eyes will be on the Coburg and Box Hill clash on Saturday afternoon – A win for Box Hill and the minor premiership could come down to the clash between the two sides on the last weekend of the season, while a loss gives the advantage to the Seagulls as they enter the home stretch.

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.

Kicking is key for clipped Seagulls

The Williamstown Seagulls sit third on the VFL ladder after ten weeks, with six wins, three losses and a bye. The side is set up well for a sixth straight preliminary finals appearance and a first flag since 2003. Despite this their work in front of goal could be of concern at the business end of the season.

The Seagulls were thoroughly outplayed by the Box Hill Hawks on Sunday afternoon and will be looking to bounce back when they travel to Punt Road at lunchtime on Saturday.IMG_1591

When examining the statistics from the 62-point loss on Sunday afternoon there are three things that stand out.

  • Box Hill had 79 more marks than Williamstown.
  • Williamstown had six more inside 50’s than Box Hill [57-51] however 49 of the 51 entries for Box Hill came on the rebound.
  • Despite only having seven more scoring shots Box Hill kicked 19.8 to their opponents 8.12.

It is the accuracy in front of goals which could cost the Seagulls as the season goes on. Sunday afternoon was the sixth time in their nine games this season when they Seagulls have kicked more behinds than goals. Through their first nine games of the season the Seagulls have a cumulative score of 120.139 (859). That’s the fourth highest scoring total in the VFL this year behind Box Hill, Port Melbourne and Essendon. So how can the Seagulls improve their accuracy to kick a competitive score every week?

It comes down to confidence. The volume of behinds scored it clearly more than Andy Collins would want, and as with the twelve behinds on Sunday, a lot of them have been rushed.

Through the first six weeks of the season the biggest joy in watching the Seagulls was the fluidity they showed when using the corridor and moving the ball into their forward 50. In the last month it appears the level of confidence has dropped, with entries into the forward 50 often resulting in trying to find an easier target rather than having a shot for goal.

Is shooting for goal on every forward entry the answer? No, it isn’t. For me it is about weighing up the options. While the shot from closer to goal likely to be a higher percentage shot than a shot from distance, the chances of a mark may not be as high, which can lead to turnovers.

The Seagulls have scored 14 or more goals on five occasions this season, with the last occasion being the home clash against Coburg in late May. Since then the Seagulls have scored 11 (against Geelong), 9 (against Footscray) and 8 (against Box Hill). In a further show of their dominance, the Seagulls had 7 more scoring shots against Geelong and 19 more in their game against Footscray.

What does this tell us? Williamstown are one of the most potent attacking teams in the VFL and they have generated more scoring opportunities than their opponent every week this year with the exception of last Sunday, the opening round against the Northern Blues (a one point victory) and their local derby against Werribee (a two point loss).

The Seagulls have the results on the board. Those results show that they are statistically and performance wise one of the best teams in the league across the last few years. Facing the struggling Richmond Tigers on Saturday could be perfect timing for a group who are looking to get their confidence back, with the Tigers reeling after their last quarter collapse against Footscray last weekend.

Four Points – Footscray Bulldogs

A frequently windy and for a brief moment wet Sunday afternoon spent at Whitten Oval saw Williamstown Seagulls fans rewarded as their team ran out 39 point winners over the reigning premiers, the Footscray Bulldogs.

1. Cam Lockwood – For the second time in three games a Seagull has used their milestone to help their side to a crucial victory. Vice-Captain Cam Lockwood was appearing in his 100th VFL game and did not disappoint. Two goals, sixteen disposals and two tackles saw him among the best on ground. His run from the backline was key as the Seagulls negated Footscray’s opportunity to kick a strong score with the wind.IMG_1500

2. Lock it in, Eddie – The game was won and lost in the forward 50 at the Geelong Road end. With winds reaching 40km/ph at points, the team who made use of it was always going to come out on top. Williamstown locked the ball in the forward 50 when they had the wind, while Footscray allowed the Seagulls to break into the midfield, depleting the Bulldogs scoring options in the process. The Seagulls kicked 8.19 (67) to the Bulldogs 2.7 (19) at the Geelong Road end, a statistic which defined the most anticipated game of the round.

3. Opportunities are what you make them – 9.22 doesn’t look great, but any time you have 31 scoring shots you’re going to be tough to beat. More than that the Seagulls were beaten in all of the main stat categories besides Inside 50’s and scoring shots. So how did they more than double the score of their opponents? Effective possessions. The amount of junk kicks or handballs on Sunday were so small I could count them on both hands. When the Seagulls had the ball they knew where they needed to put it, put it in position and the results spoke for themselves.

4. Rest up – The Seagulls have the bye next weekend and head in at the top of the ladder, a position which they will hold if Collingwood can beat Werribee at Victoria Park. Coming out of the bye the Seagulls face Box Hill at home, Richmond away, Essendon at home and Frankston at home. While it may not be the toughest draw the Seagulls could have, they will face challenges in each of the games and will need to win at least three of the four fixtures to keep their top two hopes alive.

Four Points – Geelong Cats

The Williamstown Seagulls won their second straight game on Saturday, deafeating the Geelong Cats. The win sees the Towners return to the top of the VFL standings in the process.

1. Momentum – It’s not long ago that the Seagulls couldn’t find themselves on the right end of a two-point game to save themselves. After getting back on the winners list against Coburg, the momentum from that victory played a large part of the success on Saturday afternoon. The Seagulls were in front at every change after the first quarter, and the lessons learned in the close losses against Port Melbourne and Werribee shone through as the side hung on for their most memorable win of the season to date.IMG_1430

2. Tackling pressure – The Seagulls won the tackle count 82-78 but made their biggest contribution in the third quarter where they laid 15 more tackles than the Cats (24-9). This pressure resulted in eight scoring opportunities for the Seagulls, opposed to the five scoring shots had by the Cats. If it wasn’t for the impact of a swirling breeze the visitors would have made greater use of their dominance than the 4.4.(28) they kicked.

3. Loose ball gets – Geelong outmarked Williamstown 76-53 on the day, a stat which in a lot of games would be enough to swing the result. The Seagulls dominated when it came to putting their head over the loose ball and their toughness was rewarded. Jolley, Gallucci, Meese and first gamer Ash Di Ciero all demonstrated a nose for the loose ball, a certain key to victory.

4. Calm in the clutch – After the loss to Port Melbourne I was sitting on the train home, sharing my frustration with a Port Melbourne supporter. Our moods were obviously polar opposites, but in the process of both presenting our cases he said something which will forever stick with me about the loss. At the final change the message from Gary Ayres was to keep the ball as close to the boundary line as they could. On Saturday afternoon what I witnessed in the last quarter from the Seagulls was the same as what I saw from Port Melbourne three weeks prior. With the margin under a goal with minutes remaining (as it had been for the majority of the day) the Seagulls made sure they kept numbers behind the ball and kept the ball near the boundary line. By no means was it the first option, but it was an option if the side thought they were in danger. On reflection, Geelong weren’t given a chance to win it in the last five minutes despite the ball being in their attacking half. Calmness persevered, with four points the ultimate reward.