A MID-SEASON defeat to Old Collegians was the wake-up call Dennington needed to surge into today’s Warrnambool and District league qualifying final.
Dogs coach Ben Parkinson this week highlighted the 48-point loss to the Warriors in round eight as a turning point of their campaign.
The defeat left them facing an uphill battle to secure a double chance for finals. But they have lost just once since and hit the post-season in good form.
“Probably if we had to pick one thing out (as a turning point), it was that Collegians game on the Sunday,” Parkinson said.
“That’s as bad as I’ve seen us play. As far as effort-wise as well as our execution, it was totally unacceptable.
“That was the only game we had filmed all year, which was probably perfect. We got to show it to the boys.
“You can talk about it all day until the sun goes down but if you’ve got it on TV as proof, they can’t deny it. They can’t argue the point, it’s there in fact.”
Parkinson predicted the qualifying final against Merrivale at Allansford Recreation Reserve today would be a high-pressure affair, something he welcomed.
He said the Dogs’ intensity was a key factor in their 39-point win against the Tigers a fortnight ago.
“I really focus on that. I reckon it’s huge for us. If we’re up and about in that area, the rest of the offence usually has a flow-on effect,” he said.
Merrivale coach Karl Dwyer also highlighted pressure as being critical if the Tigers are to replicate their early-season win against the Dogs.
“It’s usually the barometer for a team, tackles and that kind of thing,” he said.
“Last week we had 40 tackles to half-time and six in the third quarter. It was no surprise that was when Old Collegians got on top of us.
“We were lucky they kicked inaccurately. It’s a massive thing whatever ground you play on, whoever the opposition is, presssure is the key.”
Dwyer believed the Tigers hit finals in good shape. They played top-five sides in their last three matches, winning two.
“I think our best footy is right up there, we can match it with anyone. We’ve got to work on those lapses in concentration,” he said.
“A lot of sides would be working on that at this time of year, consistency. We are pretty close to full strength. We go in, I think, in good shape.
Merrivale made two changes for the match, recalling Sam Gleeson after a bout of the flu and Claye Cassidy for his first match in a month.
Josh Guiney, a spark against the Warriors last weekend, will miss with a hamstring injury while Sean Barnes was an unlucky omission.
Rhys Raymond has also lost his battle against a persistent calf complaint, robbing the Tigers of a key tall
Dennington regained Tully Allwood, Ryan McElgunn, Jono Nevill and Jordan Greene from injury.