PENOLA 14.18 (102) d KEITH 6.7 (43)
PENOLA’S A Grade footballers have continued their unbeaten run in the 2019 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara season, with a solid result over Keith on Saturday.
The Eagles hosted the Crows at McCorquindale Park and staged a final-half assault to claim the points in emphatic fashion.
Early in the contest Keith was right in the game, trailing by six points at the first break, then just three at half time.
Coach Matt Tilby said much of that was to do with accountability of his players, which he addressed at the long break.
“We started the first quarter really well and dominated the first half of that without getting the score on the board,” he said.
“Then Keith took charge for the second half of the quarter.
“While we matched them with the pressure side of things, we were a little bit undisciplined in our accountability and our skills probably let us down at times.
“We made a point at half time that we needed to be more accountable.
“I felt our skill level lifted as well after that.”
From there it was all Penola, as the home side kicked away and tore the game apart.
The Eagles banged on 10 goals after the long break, while holding the Crows to just two.
Tilby said that was a combination of players standing up and being accountable, as well as the superior fitness overall.
“Accountability was a huge factor early in the game,” he said.
“We do not play zones, we play one-on-one football.
“I believe we have the depth in our group to expose teams, but if you play accountable football you need everyone buying in.
“I felt in the second half we had that.
“The communication on the oval was fantastic.
“Keith plays quite a chip around style of football and we made it really hard for those guys to do that.
“It was encouraging to see the guys go out in the second half and follow instructions and work hard on it.”
With that stifling defence came some impressive performances in front of goals, with Brad and Adam Merrett on target with four majors each.
Former North Gambier player Brock Egan made his much anticipated debut for the side with two majors to his name, while Simon Berkefeld continued his solid start to the season with two goals
and the best-on-ground honours for his efforts.
“Brad Merrett is a huge target up forward for us,” Tilby said.
“The professionalism he brings to the table, the way he conducts himself and the way he plays his football is exceptional.
“Him and Adam are working well together.
“Adam’s game was fantastic.
“When the game was in the balance he could see something needed to be done and went up the ground a bit.
“He really put some pressure on around the ball ups and showed a huge amount of leadership.
“Brock has been chomping at the bit to get out there, with injury holding him back.
“He was great through the midfield for us and changed up forward.
“He will keep improving once he gets that match fitness back.”
The Eagles’ ability to run games out this season has been a highlight so far.
Much of that came on Saturday through Berkefeld – who was awarded the David Steen Memorial Medal, Brad Bryant Scott Merrett who were named as the top three best players on the day.
Tilby said those three were “exceptional”.
“Simon Berkefeld, as always, is an exceptional athlete,” he said.
“He ran hard all day and used the footy well.
“It was Brad Bryant’s best game for the club.
“He has played well so far, but this one was another step up.
“He gave us a lot off the half back, with elite use of the ball by foot.
“Scott Merrett really took it on and created good leadership and opportunities for the guys up forward.”
Overall Tilby said he has been pleased with the results after three rounds, but expects a big challenge as the season unfolds.
The side has this weekend off with a bye, before heading on the road to tackle Kaniva.
Tilby said the hard work will continue this week at training to ensure everything goes to plan.
“It has been a good start but there is a long way to go,” he said.
“Our main focus now is Kaniva.
“We will not go up there thinking it will be an easy game.
“We will have to work hard to have a successful game up there.”