A PREGAME address by former Melbourne Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg laid the groundwork for Port Fairy’s cut-throat victory against Terang Mortlake and a finals double-chance.
The Seagulls, down on confidence, form and wins in the past three weeks, called in Hoornweg in a bid to recapture some of their early-season spark for the third-place showdown at Gardens Oval on Saturday.
Her presence, which included coaching from the sidelines, inspired the Seagulls to a 34-29 win, which was set up with a dominant opening quarter burst of 12 goals to four.
Port Fairy playing coach Emma O’Keeffe was relieved her side had scored its first win in four matches.
But she said it was only a step towards top form, saying she felt the Seagulls’ game was only at 70 per cent.
O’Keeffe said Hoornweg’s involvement had given her players a fresh perspective and would have lasting benefits.
She said Hoornweg sat the team down at 11.15am — two hours before the start time — and discussed each player’s role. Players had to identify a word crucial to their approach and write it on the back of their hand as a permanent reminder.
O’Keeffe’s said it all — “intensity”.
Hoornweg backed up Saturday’s involvement with a one-hour training session yesterday.
O’Keeffe said the Seagulls would adopt a pregame meeting before Saturday’s qualifying final against Camperdown.
“I felt like going into this game it was a lot more confident, each player’s motivation was up and we knew what we had to do,” she said.
She said a fast start was crucial.
“The majority of the games we’ve won this season we have come out and had a good lead. It was good to come out hard.”
But she said the Seagulls failed to push hard in the third term as Terang Mortlake fought back, suggesting the margin could have been bigger.
Terang Mortlake coach Pam Davis said the first quarter decided the match.
“I don’t think we coped with their physicality,” Davis said.
But after quarter-time the young Bloods out-scored Port Fairy 25-22.
“Our goal was to make finals,” Davis said.
“We’ve made finals and we’ve showed we are more than competitive the last two weeks.”
Port Fairy was able to produce some turnovers in the midcourt through goal attack Mandy Knee and wing defence Rebekah Moroney at critical times when Terang Mortlake challenged. The Bloods, with sweet-shooting Jo Couch in form, repeatedly cut the margin to five goals after quarter-time but couldn’t get any closer as Port centre Nicole Dwyer provided plenty of drive and was at her pesky best in defence.
Knee and goal shooter Emily Forrest teamed well for the Seagulls despite Bloods’ star defender Jess O’Connor having a big influence in forcing turnovers.