Justin, it started so well but all seemed to break down in that third quarter, can you give us your thoughts on where it all went wrong?
To be honest it was probably a little bit before half time. We started losing that field position battle mainly off the contest and then in that third quarter we couldn’t handle them around the contest. They got well on top and were able to use their numbers. We just succumbed to their pressure. That was disappointing. They had a weight of numbers on their side and we had more passengers than them. It was a bit of a reality check for us.
You spoke last week about team defence, did you seem to lose a bit of structure today?
Absolutely. We couldn’t win any contests behind the ball. Our backs didn’t defend well one-on-one or didn’t support each other enough. When it hit the ground, we didn’t handle their pressure in our back 50 and we either kicked the ball back to them or gave it to someone under more pressure than the original ball carrier. The defensive aspect was really poor, but we felt like our contest was decent in the first half. Our ball movement was good and we moved the way we wanted to move the ball and we scored. However, that second quarter defensively just allowed West Coast to score too easily and that continued on into the third quarter, so that was disappointing.
How much did it play a part down back after losing Ethan Hughes and then having Heath Chapman clearly struggle with his shoulder?
Clearly, it plays a part. Hughes has been one of our better contest players and better defenders this year. ‘Chappy’ obviously copped a big knock on that shoulder early. We missed Luke Ryan, he’s our key defensive support. The numbers weren’t in our favour, but I just think we could have done a lot better than what we did. There were some basic defensive errors and basic contest errors that allowed easy scores. I thought we jumped into the game really well, but poor defensive errors allowed them to get back into the game and allowed scores way too easily. They obviously got on top in the third quarter and defended us better and we couldn’t defend them. It’s disappointing.
Heath Chapman had a real crack today. He seemed to be under duress with his shoulder. Do you think he will be alright for next week?
We think he’ll be alright. Clearly, he’ll be sore early in the week. He’s a competitor, and he’s a tough bugger. I am proud of the way he fought it out after copping such a big hit. Fingers crossed that we can get him up for next week.
You mentioned it was a bit of a reality check. Is that a point you have for everyone at home, that you still have a way to go?
We do have a fair way to go. I never thought winning three in a row that we were the end product. We had too many inconsistent players today against a side that had even contributors all over the ground. We’re still in a development phase and we’ll take the lessons from today. Individuals will learn from it and look to improve certain aspects that they need too. Overall, we need to get better in the contest as a team and we can’t rely on too few. We need players under pressure to execute their roles better. We got challenged in that third quarter on the scoreboard and our game just fell away. It started at the contest, but there were other areas of the game where we were trying to execute and just fell away as well. We need all players executing their role, and West Coast had a lot more players willing to do that.
Do you expect to get Luke Ryan back next week?
He’ll be touch and go, so we’ll just see how it plays out. Fingers crossed he comes back but it will be touch and go.
Was Brennan Cox a touch and go situation today?
No, he was cleared to play yesterday after he got through captains run. He was right to go, so judge him on being fully fit.
It’s been a long time since the club has won an RAC Derby, the fans will be frustrated as they were vulnerable. What’s your message to the fans who sat at home having to watch that?
I understand the disappointment. I wouldn’t have liked to watch what they would’ve watched in the third quarter and in that second half. We need to get more consistent across all positions on the field. We are probably relying on too few to do too much at the moment. We need to get more consistent at executing our roles, but we also need to get more consistent in the contest and get better. There’s no sugar coating it, we need to get better as a club and as a team. That starts Tuesday when we get back to the club.
Do you have an update on Ethan Hughes?
He got a big hit on that shoulder and he’s going to have to get that scanned and we won’t be able to give you too much information until we get that done. He’ll get that done tomorrow and we’ll put something out.