2012 NWPL: Wests 11 : 5 Melbourne

Against the background of an overall solid performance by the entire team, Wests’ Johnno Cotterill and Joel Dennerley were outstanding. This was Cotterill’s best performance that I have seen him play. He scored 5 goals – 2 field and 3 extra-man, gave an excellent goal-scoring pass to Ross O’Brien when the latter did his trade-mark left-wing drive as well as being strong and competent in various attacking and defensive capacities. If he continues to show this quality, he will be among strong contenders for the MVP title this season.

The fact that Dennerley saved 3 penalties out of 3 – all taken by Sam McGregor – speaks for itself. Melbourne’s conversion of only 1 man-up opportunity out of 7 in the first three periods was also largely due to Joel’s skills. He virtually ‘strangled’ the opponents with his confident performance.

The other Magpies, who made a significant contribution, whose strong individual performance blended into a cohesive collective effort were: Richie Campbell, Stephen Cody, Ross O’Brien, Daniel Streets, Matt Sagehorn, Thomas Corcoran and Corrie Eames.

The Victorian Tigers started the match well by converting their counter-attack and extra-man chances in the first 2 minutes. From then on, the Tigers’ shot execution – by every player who had a chance – was deficient against the background of the Wests’ defensive actions backed-up by superb goalkeeping.

Matt Martin is gaining form and was one of the best and most dangerous players in Melbourne’s ranks. Sizeable and strong yet robust and fast enough with a fiery temperament, 10 years ago Matt was one of the most talented players in Australia who had a fantastic future in water polo. If he had applied himself properly after the 2001 junior world championships in Turkey, when all doors were open for him, I have no doubt that he could have become a world class centre-forward by 2005 at the latest. I hope it is not too late for Matt at his current age, if that is what he wants to do now.

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers perform in the next match against Wests. Today their opponents looked too strong for them.

X-man: Wests 9/5 (56%); Melbourne 10/3 (30%)

Referees: Andrew Carney and Nick Hodgers

The coach and players’ comments below finalize the picture of the match

– Jeff Barrow (VT):

Wests were very good today and we were not as good as
required. Generally we missed our extra-man chances, missed our penalty opportunities and lacked structure up forward. Hard to win with those elements not working. There was plenty to learn from the game and we will now put those things in to practice. We need to improve in all the areas mentioned plus work on some of the defensive aspects for longer periods.

Johnno, Richie, Joel, Steve and Ross were all very good for Wests and they combined well. Johnno looked particularly impressive and certainly dominated long periods of the game. Joel also was very impressive. Wests played a heavy press that we took too long to adjust to.

Blake Edwards was good for us but we lacked overall contributions across the team. It is usually a strength of ours but today we struggled against a good team. The referees were consistent and no complaints there.

Whilst the score line was disappointing there was enough to take out of the game to know that we will be strong at the pointy end of the season. Whilst we may not have too many Australian reps ( only one) it could be unwise to right us off this year.

– Stephen Cody (WM):

Going into today’s game we knew that it was going to be a good hit out. With the calibre of players that Vic Tigers have in their line up from centre forwards to outside shooter, we knew that defence was going to be the key to get us across the line. With good individual match ups across the pool, we started out on the front foot with shots being blocked and a great game from Joel Dennerley in goals pushing us into an early lead, even five meter shots where no match for Dennerley. The Wests side showing some depth on the bench with all players contributing to getting us into a 9-3 score line going into the last quarter. We knew that the game was ours and just had to play controlled water polo for the last period. Finishing the game strong 11-5 and looking forward to tomorrow’s game.

– Blake Edwards (VT):

There weren’t many positives, unfortunately, to take
out of today’s game. Our poor defensive starts yet again have let us down. You also can’t expect to beat one of the leaders of the competition after missing 3 penalties and scoring only 2 from 8 in extra man. Again we allowed too many goals to come from inside 5 meters. Luckily, due to Sydney Unis poor execution we were let off the hook against them, but this time Wests were able to punish us. In order to win tomorrow we will need to fix these repetitive defensive errors in our game, and improve on our extra man conversion rate.

– Johnno Cotterill (WM):

Today’s game was built around our defence and this has been our goal for the season. With Joel playing like this and good combinations in defence we managed to keep a very potent team such as Victoria to only 5 goals. If we continue to work hard in defence and keep teams to a minimal amount of goals I am confident that our attack can do the job. It was a very satisfying win today against the number 1 ranked team. I thought we adapted better to the conditions than the other team, however there are still a number of things we must keep working on, but we are definitely starting to build momentum and with a good few weeks of training and hard games I think we can arrive at the finals prepared and ready to perform at our best. We are still getting better.

– Matt Martin (VT):

I think that a game like this shows how important it is to taking your opportunities – 3 missed penalties and 2 from 8 extra man conversions. It also shows that lack of defensive pressure allows the opposition to pick you apart and put you on the back foot. Other than that if we shoot the ball at the goal keeper he will look like a superstar and we will struggle to score. I think in a poor performance we still created enough opportunities to score and stay in the game. If we take our opportunities and stick to our defensive structures with intensity the outcome of the game can be very different.

– Joel Dennerley (WM):

 I thought we played well as a team against a top quality opponent. We managed to make some good field blocks and steals in defence when Victoria was in dangerous attacking situations. We were also able to convert our own attacking opportunities when we created them. Overall, it was a pleasing result after 2 weeks without playing any games.

-Richard Campbell (WM):

In the lead up to today’s game we were preparing mentally more than anything. We have done the physical work already – it was always going to come down to strategy and playing to the ability we know we have. Without doubt I believe we have improved dramatically as a team unit, even compared to what we were half way through the season. We had a well executed attack in the first half through Johnno and our Americans which set the game up for us. Joel in goals was obviously phenomenal saving three 5 metre penalties and a spate of others. Everyone’s defence help nullify their key players, restricting them to only a few goals for the whole match. It was a confidence building performance for myself and the boys.

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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