Crocker praises teams’ defensive pressure

NORTH Melbourne AFLW Coach Darren Crocker knew the importance of his side’s victory against the Sydney Swans with four rounds left in the regular season, noting his side’s defensive pressure was key to getting the win.

“It was an important game for us,” Crocker said. “Sydney are obviously at a different stage of their development than what we are. We still had to come in and try to get the game looking how we would like it to look, and I thought for the most part we did that.

“We needed to get the job done and get it done well. The players came and I thought right from the first bounce, they brought the intensity and brought our game and got it looking very much we needed it to look. We pretty much did that right throughout the four quarters.”

With the Sydney Swans having a strong game plan surrounding Emma Kearney, Crocker noted Brooke Brown’s strong performance in the defence line.

“We’ve always encouraged Brooke to be a strong rebounding defender for us, a little bit in the same vein as an Emma Kearney,” Crocker said.

“They [Sydney] obviously going pretty tightly to ‘Kearns’ today with a negative forward, which meant that we definitely needed Brooke to get involved and give us some rebound, which I thought she did.”

Another key player that Crocker mentioned post-match Nicole Bresnehan, and the role she played in the backline.

“I thought Nicole Bresenhan provided plenty of run as well,” he said.

“For the backs to hold up and not let anything through and score one point for the game. I thought we held our shape really well.

“You can fall into the trap of everyone getting ahead of the ball, everyone trying to get involved but I thought right across the board, I thought the players all played the roles that they had to play at specific times, and we were really disciplined to do that.”

Crocker also spoke about what type of a player debutant Zoe Savarirayan is, and the work ethic she displayed throughout the match.  

“She brought what we knew that she was going to bring up,” he said. “We knew that she was going to bring lots of energy, liveliness. She’s only quite a little player but she’s got really good wheel. She’s quick, she can jump and she’s very clean as well.

“There was a rundown tackle late in the game where she ran past a number of our players just to bring a player down in their forward 50. That’s a testament to how much she’s just loving it out there and how much she wanted to continue to bring some effort for the team.

“She had a bring contingent here, which is great to see. She’s got a wonderful family and her journey is very different. She hasn’t played a lot of Aussie rules football and has played a lot of soccer.

“She’s come in and she’s really connected well with our group and the other players love having her around. We can see that she’s got a pretty strong future.”

After an inconsistent start to North Melbourne’s season, Crocker spoke post game the importance of his sides game plan going into the match against the Swans and what the defensive end needed to do better as the season has gone by.

“If you looked at the numbers, Sydney had a close loss, but they were very good in the contest,” he said. “Something they’ve been able to bring throughout this year is effort and intent and pressure. We knew that today wouldn’t be any different, but it was a matter of how we were able to absorb that and get outside of that bubble with our spread and being able to use our hands away from the contest.”

“I thought that was pretty important to get the ball in our front half and try and lock it there. Our pressure’s been really good around the footy in the front half.”

Currently sitting fifth as the front-running team on four wins, North Melbourne now prepares to take on flag fancy Brisbane back home at Arden Street Oval in Round 7. The clash looms as a crucial one among the race for top four honours.

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