SPEAKING after his side’s Preliminary Final win over North Melbourne, Dees coach Mick Stinear could not stop smiling but there was also a sense of relief on his face.
He was a proud coach of the way his team performed, after they grinded out a 17 point win.
“It was hard work, but really proud of the group,” Stinear said.
“North are a really quality team, and Darren Crocker’s done a fantastic job with the list and the type of footy they’re playing and they’ve wanted to be hard to play against all season. That was the case in Round 2 and definitely the case again today, and I think the conditions made it hard for both teams too, so both teams deserve a bit of credit for the way they played and the wind was swirling around, but pleased with the team’s ability to hang in there.
“The third quarter was sort of batten down the hatches and did well not to concede too much of a score, and then last quarter we really started to get our game going and so that was pleasing. But we feel like plenty of room for growth and improvement, but credit to North for the way they played and it was a real grind.”
He admitted there was certainly a sense of relief after his skipper Daisy Pearce kicked the sealer in the final quarter.
“I was hoping there was a sealer coming a couple of minutes before,” he said. “But extraordinary goal, and just her will to win, you could see it today, like such a special player and inspirational leader.
“She was willing the troops on the whole game, and when given an opportunity to go and impact she does it and really pleased and grateful for what she was able to do today.”
Stinear spoke of how there were a few different ways his team changed things up in the last quarter to open things up and get the game back on their terms.
“I think we changed our midfield dynamic a little bit,” he said. “Like Paxy went in there and gave us a bit more run and drive.
“We were able to hold our five forwards ahead of the ball and trust our mids to win contest and then make sure we had even numbers ahead of the ball and then our ability to defend in and behind that.
“We were able to get some time in our forward half, so that made a huge difference and eventually hit the scoreboard, so prior to that we were sort of getting beaten in contest and around the ball in the midfield, and they were a bit rushed and panicked with the ball.
“So the third quarter we might have had six intercept marks, we just couldn’t get any connection going and they just really suffocated us, and the first half just with our skill execution.
“Far from perfect but I mean that’s finals footy. You’re coming up against quality teams that won’t let you have it on your terms, and overall pleased with the team and excited to enjoy the week ahead now and build and hopefully have our best performance yet next week.”
Speaking about the last time they played next week’s opponents Brisbane, Stinear noted how the Dees were missing a few key players, but also how much that game changed the course of their season.
“I think last time we played them we were missing Sinead Goldrick and Tayla [Harris], two key members of our team, and we learnt so much out of that game. It was a bit of a reality check and we’ve got some work to do and it sort of springboarded the rest of our season, sort of showing up our flaws.
“So the group tends to respond well when we are challenged by the best teams. Pick little things up we can do better makes you stronger for the next week.
“We’ll go in with a lot of confidence, we’re not going in there to make up the numbers, we want to bring the best version of ourselves and we believe that’s good enough to beat any team, that’ll certainly be our focus.”