DEAKIN University coach Matt Lenehan says his men are well aware of the need for an improved effort when they take on Merrivale today.
The Sharks enter the clash at Merrivale Recreation Reserve reeling after their worst defeat of the season to previously winless Russells Creek.
Lenehan said the 30-point loss, which came after the Sharks led by 28 points at quarter-time, came down to the players turning the ball over when in possession.
But he was adamant they had taken the performance on board and had vowed to improve against the finals-bound Tigers.
“Talking to a few lads Tuesday night, a few were disappointed with the effort we put out,” he said.
“Then even talking to a few others tonight, they were also disappointed, not only in their own game but the way the team played.
“We were up and about early and we went back to playing the way we normally play, going back and kicking over the mark instead of using our outside runners.”
Lenehan said there were no excuses for the performance but being unable to train on a waterlogged home ground was a factor in the result.
“We just butchered the ball. We couldn’t hit a target,” he said.
“You can make excuses but the main thing I feel the difference was we haven’t been able to get on our ground for two weeks.
“We’re training on netball courts and you’re only kicking it 10, 15 metres. With the wind you want to kick it 30, 35 metres.
“That was the difference in the end, they used the ball better with the wind. We butchered the ball. We didn’t use it well at all.”
Deakin University regains key defender Brandon Cole and utility C.J. Hobbs but will be without the unavailable Jarrod Stafford, who is in Melbourne.
Merrivale broke even at the selection table but has key inclusions and omissions.
Manny Sandow, Josh Sobey and Matt Peake come in for Josh Britton, James Fary and Rhys Raymond. Peake will play for the first time since round one.
Tigers coach Karl Dwyer said the match was about “getting back to basics a little bit” after a heavy defeat to Allansford last round.
“Ninety per cent of footy is doing the basics well, which we didn’t do against Allansford. That’s what this week is about,” he said.
“We’re looking to go out and play some good team-oriented footy.”
The run home also includes flag contenders Panmure, Dennington and Old Collegians, meaning the Tigers will be well aware of their standing entering finals.
“In a way that is a good thing, because you’re going in knowing exactly where you’re at,” Dwyer said.
“Hopefully we’re not going to be too surprised when it does come finals time.”