2012 NWPL: Finals Day 2


In this game Victorian Tigers made a serious claim for the National title. They were clearly a better team. On only one occasion, at the end of the second quarter, were the Barracudas able to level the game (at 4-all) scoring a counter-attack goal after an unexpected turn-over call from referee, Nick Hodgers. Before and after that instance the Victorians were leading, bringing the score to 9:5 by the end of the third period. With 1.50 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Melbourne defended in a crucial man-down situation to preserve their lead of three goals to win the match 11:8.

It was one of Tigers’ better matches of those that I watched this season with most players contributing well by their overall competent actions and goal-scoring finishing.

The tough centre-forward goals by Blake Edwards, Sam McGregor and Matt Martin were particularly demoralizing for the Queenslanders as all three came in the third quarter when the Melbournians built their ‘buffer zone’ of 4 goals difference.

It was also the best match that I have seen so far by an Olympic candidate, Sam McGregor, who did an enormous amount of useful work apart from scoring goals and delivering goal-scoring passes. One area of his game has often, one could say always, been his ‘Achilles’ heel’ – is Sam’s shooting efficiency.

At the world championships in Shanghai, Sam took 25 shots in total scoring 5 goals for a 25% success rate. A separate 13 were ‘5 meter shots’ with only 1 scored for 7.7% conversion rate. These numbers were worse in the matches against the top teams. Sam is a very good player but he needs to improve that statistic by better decision making as to the timing of his shots in addition to continuous work on his shooting technique.

Of the three Barracudas’ Olympic candidates, Rhys Howden looked sharper than Billy Miller and Anthony Martin. Miller took several unsuccessful extra-man shots at crucial times when his team badly needed to convert those goal-scoring opportunities. His conversion rate at the 2011 world championships was 32% from 25 shots taken. That statistic is worse in the matches against the top teams. From 6 ‘5 meter shots’ 1 was scored – a success rate of 17%

For that matter, Rhys Howden’s shot efficiency in Shanghai was 7 goals from 21 shots (33%) and 0 from 2 ‘5 meter shots’. Anthony Martin took 10 shots scoring 6 (60%) but these goals were mostly scored in the matches against China (2) and Japan (3) with 1 goal in the match against Spain.

It will be interesting to see if the Victorian Tigers will be able to show the same quality in the semi-final match against Wests. Consistency has not been a trait of their NL season. However, Tigers’ second match against Wests during the regular season was a good indicator that they are capable of beating the current leaders even though they lost 5:7.

X-man: Melbourne 8/4 (50%) Barracudas 10/4 (40%)
Penalty: Melbourne 2/2 Barracudas 1/1
Referees: Daniel Bartels and Nick Hodgers

Coaches and players’ comments –

– Jeff Barrow, Melbourne’s Head-Coach:

A very hard game against a side that has similar attributes to us. We probably broke the game open in the third quarter with some good team goals. Brisbane kept us under a lot of pressure and fought back hard but we were able to play out the game. Both teams played better than the previous day but unfortunately we clashed in this round. No excuses as Sydney Uni played great to place us and Brisbane in this elimination position. I was pleased with our verbally effort levels. We’d have to step up to another level if we are to threaten Wests. Brisbane played very well and as expected Rhys Howden was outstanding. I am sure they are very disappointed but they should also be proud of their overall effort during the year.

– Rob Lyndon, Barracudas’ Head-Coach:

It was pleasing to see the boys make such an impressive start, executing the gameplan, controlling the tempo and converting our opportunities well! However at this level of competition you must sustain this for the entire 4 quarters, which we didn’t do and when you allow a team as experienced as Victoria to start controlling the game, you pay the price! Mcgregor showed his class in the 3rd quarter and put his mark on the game, this was well supported by some of their older, more experienced players. It is also hard to win at this level with extra man conversion of 30%. In saying all that I think the more finals games our young team can get will benefit us over the next few seasons. Each of the teams here this week have huge finals experience something you can only get through time!

– Blake Edwards (M):

We came out a completely different team today after yesterday’s dismal performance. The key difference from yesterday’s performance was our implementation of the game plan. When we work as a unit and play for the teams success rather then our own personal performance, we become a very difficult team to stop. We look forward to the next game.

– Rhys Howden (B):

Today was a very disappointing loss. It was a very physical game and at times we got caught in a wrestling match instead of swimming the bigger guys around the pool. When we moved, things opened up and we got rewarded. Melbourne played well and on the day we just couldn’t get over the line.

Got to keep our heads up though and have a good game against Drummoyne.

– Matt Martin (M):

A good result today truly reflecting the ability of this group of players. We still made errors that we need to iron out of our performance tomorrow if we want to progress further in the Finals series. I thought the whole team stood up today and showed we are a good unit when we want to be especially our captain and GK.

– Jarrod Gilchrist (M):

It was the result we were looking for. A much better team effort then the previous game against Sydney Uni Lions. Taking control and playing a strong third quarter gave us the commanding lead after a 5-1 quarter! The Barracudas kept coming at us and never gave up fortunately we were able to control the last quarter securing a semi-final game tomorrow.


Like most matches this season, Wests dominated this game. Having built a margin of 4:0 by the beginning of second period they brought the match to a comfortable end of 9:4. The final score could have been better for Melville if 2 extra-man goals that were scored correctly had not been cancelled by the referees. In a second instance, that decision resulted in a goal-scoring counter-attack making it a 3 additional goals difference in favour of Wests that should not have been.

Melville’s Olympic candidates, Tim Cleland and Jamie Beardsworth, looked a bit slow compared to their counterparts from Wests. One of the indicators of Melville’s energy level in that match was Tim Neesham who has not been training properly for several years now but who looked as if he was on par in that department with his team-mates. Melville has one of the best, if not the best, training conditions among all National League clubs as far as swimming pool access is concerned. Yet, fitness level has always been one of their weaknesses.

Tim Cleland’s Shanghai WC shooting stats are 2 goals from 6 shots for 33%.

As it was all season, most Magpies were contributing well to their team’s almost impeccable performance with leaders, Joel Dennerley, Richard Campbell, Johnno Cotterill, Thomas Corcoran and Matt Sagehorn, being the main play-makers. But their best player in this match was undoubtedly Stephen Cody. His sophisticated goal-scoring passes and two goals were superb. They came on top of his excellent game competency.

Olympic candidate, Richard Campbell’s shooting efficiency in Shanghai was 48% scoring 11 from 23 attempts. His scoring percentage is the same in the matches against the top teams.

In the 2008 National league Finals, when Wests won the title for the first time in their history, a young Stephen Cody became Most Valuable Player of the series. Not tall but physically very strong, he was not as mature then as he is now but it was clear that he had plenty of talent. Surely, he should have been given opportunities to further his skills and prove himself on the international arena at least in tournaments like the World League. As in the case with Trent Franklin, if anything, he should have been among the candidates for the Olympic squad (see post ‘2012 NWPL: Finals Day 1’).

The 2012 NWPL’s season has clearly demonstrated that one of the important factors for Wests successful performance is Stephen Cody along with two other field players Olympic candidates, Richard Campbell and Johnno Cotterill.

X-man: Wests 5/1 (20%) Melville 5/1 (20%)
Penalty: Wests 0 Melville 1/0
Referees: Daniel Flahive and Nicola Johnston

Coach and players’ comments –

– Peter Aranchini, Melville’s Head-coach:

UNSW Wests Magpies started strongly and never looked back. Their first quarter onslaught shaped the remainder of the game with the deficit proving too much for the Mariners to overcome.

Both coach and players (for the Mariners) were disappointed with what could only be described as a lack luster performance.

Dramatic improvements are required if the Mariners are to be a serious threat throughout the remainder of the final series.

– Stephen Cody (W):

We went into today’s game knowing that our centre backs were going to be key to our defence and the outcome of the game when playing against centre forwards of the calibre of Beadsworth and Swift. We were able to control the Mariners centre forwards by playing a dominant zone defence, with as usual the last defender Dennerley playing an amazing game in goals.

– Jamie Beadsworth (M):

 It was a disappointing performance today.

We appeared a touch distracted by the other results and as such weren’t where we should be mentally.

Nonetheless we will address these issues and will be ready for Sydney Uni tomorrow.

– Johnno Cotterill (W):

A very positive result against the team that always performs at their best come finals time. Again our defense was the key and we maintained the momentum that we’ve generated this season. Tomorow is a big game against a very strong team from Victoria. We hope to continue playing our game with our potatoes in the right place.

– Tim Cleland (M):

Today was disappointing, it was as if we just threw our batters in the pool and jumped into them and expected to play waterpolo. This does not happen, the difference between yesterday and today is chalk and cheese, one you write on a blackboard with and the other goes well with cauliflower they are two very different substances.
Wests showed us today what finals water polo is about. We will dissect this game over a few oranges and leave no stone unturned as to why and how Wests were able to penetrate us so hard and deep. Then we turn our attention to the Lions who have been thrust themselves deep into the finals.

Hopefully, tomorrow is better for us.

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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