By: Tash Gunawardana
BLACKBURN started its season off in fine form with a strong four-quarter performance against Montrose in Round 1, prevailing by 75 points as the club readies itself for Good Friday footy with Balwyn this week.
Senior coach Brendan Allen (pictured above) spoke of his side’s strong start to 2019.
“It was a little bit better than this time last year when Doncaster got us by five points, so it makes life a little bit easier when you get a win like that,” Allen said.
“It’s good to blow the cobwebs off.
“I think the players, coaches and umpires alike had a bit of rust they needed to get rid of.
“It was pleasing, a lot to work on still even though the score line probably doesn’t say that, you don’t want to be playing your best footy at this time of year that’s for sure.”
Ryan Bathie complemented teammate Jake Hammond up forward, with the pair combining for nine majors.
Bathie, formerly listed with Richmond in the VFL, has committed full-time to the Panthers in 2019.
Bathie on the go for Blackburn in Round 1. PHOTO: Davis Harrigan Photography
“Just the ability that he (Bathie) is full-time, the ability to train together is understated,” Allen said.
“The synergy they (Bathie and Hammond) had (in Round 1) just to be able to block and work for each other was a lot better than last year and what Ryan actually gives to the group is priceless with his knowledge and the way he can coach and instruct players.
“Obviously when he was at a VFL club you don’t see them during the week, so it’s fantastic to have him down full-time with us.”
Allen admits Blackburn has made minor changes to its game-plan, while improving its defensive game.
“I think if you saw us play this time last year to now you will see the difference in our game especially with our ball movement and the way we use the footy compared to previous years where there was a lot of handball-happy stuff,” Allen said.
“So from that point of view, yes it that probably showed in the first quarter (in Round 1) but it’s just the heat of the game, guys double-grabbing and just not clean, it’s going to take one or two weeks for that to come but it’s promising signs no doubt.
“There was no time off for us as a coaching group and as soon as the siren sounded preliminary final day we were in review mode and analysing where we had to actually get better and it was pretty evident that our scoring jumped up to about three goals last year compared to previous years, but we are still defensively in and around the same mark.
“If you are going to be one of the top teams in the competition, your defence has to stack up especially in finals and obviously Vermont and South Croydon last year were defensively the best two teams.
“They played off in the big dance, so that’s where we need to get a little bit better, it’s minute stuff – it’s just being able to make a decision here or there stops a goal and then all of a sudden we’re restricting teams from 76 points down to mid-60s, which is where you need to be.”
Good Friday is the first of two marquee games featuring Blackburn, with it also featuring the following week on Anzac Day against South Croydon.
“We’re really lucky that we get the chance to play in these bigger games in the Eastern footy league and for our club especially moving forward, like this year we have got both games away, but as a community club with every dollar raised it goes back into the club, they are pretty important for us going forward,” Allen said.
Both games will be broadcast live on SEN+ 1377 from 2pm – 5pm and live-streamed via EFL.org.au.