Coaches’ Corner: Season 7 – Round 5

IN a weekly series at Rookie Me Central, we cast our eyes and ears around the league to gather thoughts from AFL Women’s coaches, and see what they had to say post their respective matches on the weekend.

This week’s edition comes to us from the AIA Centre, where we hear from Collingwood coach Steve Symonds and Essendon coach Nat Wood after their sides clashed on Friday afternoon.

For the victorious coach Symonds, he was pleased with his team’s performance despite the team not adjusting to the conditions straight away.

“It was a battle, there was a bit of rain early on and it made the ground a little bit slippery,” Symonds said. “We just took a while to get going with adjustment to the conditions. We tried to play a little much dry weather footy we thought for a start, but as we got into the groove we picked up the wet weather and started to pick up a bit more territory and started to get more numbers to the contest and gradually grew our way into the game, and the back end of the game we started looking pretty strong.”

Despite the win, it’s still all about improvement for Symonds.

“We’ve got a lot of effort to improve,” he said. We’ve had a real focus on trying to keep the ball in our front half, and we did that in our initial first weeks and the last two weeks now we haven’t got the territory that we wanted so that’s something we’ll look at.

“The one thing we have started to do is the back end of our season last season was we’re very efficient when we got the ball inside our forward 50, and today we started to get that again. Whilst we’re not getting the inside 50 as much as what we would like, we are efficient when we do. We’d like to get more inside 50s and also be efficient, that’s the perfect world so we’ve got a bit of work to do but we’ll just keep chipping away.”

One player of the many that received praise from Symonds post match was Lauren Brazzale, who landed some stellar goal saving tackles late in the piece.

Meanwhile for Wood, when asked about where it went wrong about her side, which failed to make the most of more inside 50s, she said that they spoke about “building connection and synergy” but “fell away in the forward half of the ground.”

“Collingwood did a really good job of being able to defend our inside 50s,” Wood said. “I think we had the advantage… but their ability to defend our inside 50 entries was really good, as a mature team is, and they really showed us we need to improve our method in that area of the ground.”

So far this year, Essendon may not have had the wins on the board, but the Bombers have been very competitive. When asked whether she found this pleasing or frustrating, Wood said she’s “pretty competitive”, leaning her towards the latter side.

“It is a fine line to balance with the playing group,” she said. “The first couple of weeks I was finding myself saying that I was proud of the group, and trying to move beyond that to be able to go ‘okay, these are the areas we are matching it with some inaugural teams’ and being really pragmatic about the areas that we’re not.

“We are here to play finals. We don’t want to be a team that comes in and takes four, five, six years to become competitive. We’ve wanted to be competitive right from the start. I think that we’ve shown that we are, we’re halfway through the season, and today was our first double figure loss, so we have been in the games.

“Ultimately if you’re that close we want to be on the winning side of it. It’s really important that we acknowledge what’s working for us, but equally really get down to business on refining what’s not. It’s a short season, so we want to make some improvements for the back half for sure.”

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