Choice of forward targets a potent asset

Goals were hard to come by at Merrivale and Dennington players Chris Keilar (left) and Darcy Lewis were quick to congratulate Andrew Niklaus for his major.

Goals were hard to come by at Merrivale and Dennington players Chris Keilar (left) and Darcy Lewis were quick to congratulate Andrew Niklaus for his major.

IT is no surprise Dennington coach Ben Parkinson puts a strong focus on defence when he prepares his team.

Parkinson forged an outstanding career for both Dennington and Warrnambool as a running half-back who had the ability to both defend and attack as needed.

“I do have a defence first attitude when I coach so I don’t think you will see us in too many shootouts,” Parkinson said after his team’s first semi-final win against Old Collegians yesterday.

That defensive mindset stood his team in good stead against the Warriors in a game that produced just 12 goals.

The Dogs’ defence was resolute, led by Luke Duncan at centre half-back and Jordan Scott at full-back.

Chris Vickery, Dustin McCorkell and Shane Graham also worked hard, pushing back and providing the Dogs plenty of coverage around the stoppages.

But as impressive as Dennington’s team defence is, it is its forward line that has the potential to lift it into its second consecutive grand final.

In a low-scoring game, two goals to both leading forward Alex Pye and full-forward Chris Keilar proved valuable while Andrew Niklaus kicked one goal from deep in attack.

Add to that a starring role from Darcy Lewis at centre half-forward and the Dogs have an attack that can kick plenty of goals in any conditions.

Parkinson acknowledged he has a potent forward half at his disposal.

“We changed it up a bit this week because our forward line wasn’t great the week before,” Parkinson said.

“The different set-up in positioning allowed us to create a bit more space and hopefully on the Reid Oval next week we can find that space again.

“We always talk about using the free player, no matter who that might be, so having those four marking targets down there makes us a bit more unpredictable.

“A shootout is not what we want but if that is how it played out then I would still back our guys in.”

abrady@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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