Lavington win, but must lift execution, says Saker

LAVINGTON coach James Saker admits his team will need to improve its execution if it is to turn the tables on Yarrawonga in Saturday’s qualifying final, despite cruising to a comfortable 28-point victory over Corowa-Rutherglen at John Foord Oval on Saturday.

The Panthers were never threatened by their fellow finalist despite resting Saker and Luke Garland and losing Zach Hopper to a tight calf before the game, but were scrappy in their disposal at times as Saker watched from the coach’s box rather than the defensive goal square.

“It was quite a bit different (watching), a bit frustrating at times, but it was a good experience for me,” Saker said.

“Most of our method and decisions were quite good, just our execution was pretty poor and I expect more out of our players.”

Lavington will regain Saker, Garland and Hopper to face the Pigeons, while Will Lenehan got through the reserves unscathed and would also be a likely inclusion.

Saker said Adam Flagg felt some tightness in his hamstring after slipping in the second quarter but, after being strapped up, he played out the game and is likely to be fine with a light week on the track.

Lavington looked like its attention was on the qualifying final in the early going, but the Roos were unable to capitalise.

Connor Byrne and Tom Hargreave got plenty of the ball and kicked important goals, while veteran stars Matt Pendergast and Kade Stevens were in everything.

Two quick goals to Justin Koschitzke in the second term pushed the lead out to 15 at half-time and the visitors turned on their trademark pressure after the break to smother Corowa-Rutherglen whenever it looked like getting a run-on.

Koschitzke added three more in the third to finish with five in a strong contribution, before the match petered out with just one goal kicked in the final term.

Saker was pleased with most of the work the Panthers were able to put together, but said there was room for improvement and he had a mostly healthy squad to choose from for the finals.

“Pender and Stevo led by example — their disposal wasn’t great, but they’ll work on that,” he said.

“They covered the ground as well as they have so far this year and on the eve of finals that’s pretty positive.”

Corowa-Rutherglen coach Bryce Campbell elected to start his team’s recovery immediately as it prepares for Sunday’s elimination final against Wangaratta Rovers, taking his players to the Murray River straight after the game.

“Just a bit of a recovery, the boys were pretty keen to get across there rather than waiting their turns for the ice baths,” assistant coach Troy Maiden said.

Maiden was disappointed with the Roos’ disposal.

“We think we’re a chance to win every game so it was a disappointing result. I thought the effort was there but probably our execution was poor at times,” he said.

“I thought we competed pretty well for most of the day, but our second quarter probably cost us where they kicked a couple of pretty quick easy goals and we didn’t respond quickly enough.

“But next week is the start of a new season, it’s another chance and a good opportunity for the boys.”