Starcevich praises troops, but still finds room for improvement

REFLECTING on the season at large after his side’s win against Collingwood, Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich was happy with where his team is at, but is still on the hunt for ways for the all-conquering Lions can improve.

“It’s the first time we’ve won nine games in a home and away season, so that’s a bit of a milestone for our crew,” Starcevich said post-match. “We’ve played some decent opposition in the last month and [have] been able to find a way to win. They obviously like playing at this venue… it’s been very, very pleasing.

“There’s still things we need to keep improving. We probably left a few scoring chances on the table tonight, but you can’t fault the effort and endeavour. It’s been a warm day here as we know, just energy wise we were a fraction off but we’re getting picky now, they’ve been good.”

Starcevich praised his side’s defensive pressure right across the ground, which made life for his defenders a lot easier.

“Right across the ground that’s one of our hallmarks of when we’re going okay, our pressure’s nice and high,” he said. “It was high for the whole night which was great and you’re sort of asking the opposition to go with you with that and if they can’t there’s your opportunity to go forward and score. That’s the way we roll.

“Depending on what’s going on up the ground, it makes life for our defenders a lot easier if there’s pressure on the ball coming in. That was the case a lot of the time tonight for Nat (Grider), Bre (Koenen) and ‘Lutsy‘ (Kate Lutkins) who took some nice intercept marks. Good to see her sort of back to how we know Luts plays, but those sort of players life’s a lot easier if there’s pressure on the ball up the field.”

Another player who drew praise from their coach was Courtney Hodder, who was again lively in front of goal on Friday night.

“We were just talking about her in the post-game with the players actually,” Starcevich said. “Her method doesn’t change too much week in and week out. She’s busy and dynamic, and she’s always providing pressure at ground level in your front 50 which is great. Sometimes she’ll end up with the ball in her hands and be able to have a ping at goal and other times she won’t.

“Last week I think she had two offensive possessions and 20 pressure acts, and tonight it was 12 and 20 and two goals, so that’s the fine margin that she lives in but her actual method and approach doesn’t change too much week in week out, and that helps everyone else in that part of the ground function well.”

Speaking before the events at Casey Fields yesterday, Starcevich talked about the battle for top spot, how the group was feeling and how they were looking ahead to the finals starting next week and how they were going to prepare.

“Obviously if Melbourne want to close the gap on the percentage we’ve added to tonight they’re going to have to have a pretty significant win and probably keep the opposition to a very low score, so it’s something that’s out of our control so we sit back and watch,” he said.

“There’s been a few seasons like this actually. I remember season five when we ended up winning the whole lot we had to wait and see where we were going to land after the home and away series, but all those things are out of your control, it’s a bit nerve wracking but hopefully playing Friday night means we can have the weekend off to recharge and get stuck into next week and play whoever we need to play, but we’ve earned the right to host a couple of finals so looking forward to it.”

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