WODONGA coach Ben Hollands believes the introduction of the press has been one of the key reasons for its dramatically improved form in the second-half of the home and away series.
After languishing with a 1-8 record at the halfway stage of the season, the Bulldogs have charged home with a 4-4 win-loss ratio and can finish in the black by upsetting Lavington today.
Hollands has used 38 players in a bid to find the right mix this season including nine debutantes with ties to Wodonga’s juniors in Beau Elkington, Nathan Vogel, Pat Stow, Adam Schupina, Brandon and Kayne Turner, Jarrod Sinclair, Jack Stefani and Todd Simpson.
“The press is certainly a big part of the reason why we have improved in the second half,” Hollands said.
“We trained for two or three weeks and the first time we implemented it was against Lavington in round 9.
“It wasn’t ideal to bring it in then, but we’ll persevere with it.
“We felt with our playing group we needed to defend as a team rather than one-on-one.
“It’s about personnel and we think we have guys who read the ball pretty well and it just suits our game.
“Apart from last weekend, all of our numbers are much better.”
Lavington has mastered the press in recent years under the coaching of Tim Sanson and James Saker and the Bulldogs face a tough assignment beating the Panthers at their own game.
The absence of top-liners Matt Pendergast, Brant Dickson, Luke Garland and Myles Aalbers will help Wodonga’s cause as will the anticipated heavy conditions and the fact that the home team has nothing to play for next week.
“It would be good to finish on a positive note against a good side,” Hollands said.
“We led Lavington at quarter-time last time and were in the game in the third quarter before they got on top and hopefully we stick it a bit longer this time.”