THERE are those who naively tell North Ballarat Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald that today’s game is a free win already – no stress, easy points.
FitzGerald said it was “a bit too convenient” of an assessment.
Frankston is no longer the cellar-dweller easy beat of the Victorian Football League.
Already this season, the Dolphins have nabbed wins against traditional heavyweight Port Melbourne and Collingwood, a team that defeated the Roosters by 52 points in round one.
This is no fluke.
Dolphins coach Simon Goosey has been cultivating a successful stand-alone club with a core of players in their third or fourth VFL seasons.
The Dolphins have made clear this season that producing AFL draftees the past couple of seasons has helped their recruitment and retention process – and they are starting to show how this is working.
FitzGerald said the method was how premierships could be won. Experience in young, developing players was the basis for the Selkirk Roosters’ three-peat in 2008-10.
“Guys like Myles (Sewell), Clifo (Steve Clifton), Dan Feery, Matt Sharkey and Jacob Spolding had good games under their belt by then. They all matured together,” FitzGerald said.
“Frankston’s got players aged 22 to 24 that have played 50 to 100 VFL games.
“Simon (Goosey) is a good coach – they play with him and for him.”
FitzGerald said Russell Gabriel played a genuine ruck role for the Dolphins and was particularly strong and influential at the stoppages.
Forwards Chris Irving (four goals against Port Melbourne) and Michael Lourey (eight goals against Collingwood) are dangerous supported by a solid midfield, featuring Shane Hockey, Mitchell Bosward, Leigh Kitchin and Luke Potts, that should match up well against the Roosters.
Focus at the Roosters this week has been on maximising opportunities.
FitzGerald has been happy with how his players have taken on the game – they had a strong start and finish against Essendon last week – but continue to be hurt by a second quarter lapse.
He wants his players to wrestle longer defensively to neutralise opposition when their rivals are controlling play.
There is no room for error in the VFL anymore.
NORTH BALLARAT ROOSTERS INJURY LIST: Jason Linke (hamstring, one week), James Keeble (ankle, one week), Lachlan Edwards (back, one week), Dan Edwards (quad, one week), Ben Peters (hamstring, one week), Simon Close (hamstring, one week), Tom Carey (ankle, 3-4 weeks), Chris Giampaolo (quad, 3-4 weeks), Tom Watson (torn hamstrings 3-4 weeks), Liam Hoy (thumb, five weeks), Nick Couch (knee, season), Beau Bennett (knee, season), Joey Macula, Joel McInerney unavailable.