By: Joseph Arthur
BALWYN started its 2019 campaign off on the right foot with a 25-point victory over South Croydon away from home and as its Good Friday clash with Blackburn fast approaches, the club is prepared to tackle the occasion head-on.
Senior coach Rodney Eade is confident in his side’s ability to remain focused on the task at hand.
“We know we are playing against good competition, Blackburn is a good team and it’s a big occasion, but we think our players can rise to that occasion,” Eade said.
“It’s more about sticking to their process and the roles that they need to play, it’s those sorts of things that are important, good players stand up, so being able to play well when there is a big occasion is important.”
After the Tigers’ strong Round 1 performance, Eade said he was pleased with the “contributions across the board from every player”, but recognised that they still have room for improvement.
“We probably didn’t make the most of our chances,” Eade said.
“That connection going forward, we are probably looking for a bit of improvement in it this week.”
Coming up against a strong opponent, Balwyn will rely on a team effort in order to stop Blackburn’s firepower up forward and keep the likes of Jake Hammond and Ryan Bathie at bay.
“We need to work hard in the midfield to have the ball going our way, to have a territory game going our way, because their forwards are obviously very talented,” Eade said.
“We’ll back our back-six to be able to compete really well, but it’s really up to our midfield and forwards to put pressure on up the ground.
“Our back-six are working well as a group, at least that’s one area of the ground where we’ve got some continuity, we added Jack Martin from Doncaster East as well and he’s a good unit who helps us out.”
Long-time Balwyn forward Jeff Gobbels (pictured below) said he will use his experience and leadership to keep the boys from becoming overwhelmed by the big game and help ensure they serve up their best footy to the Burners.
“I’ll just keep reminding the group to stick to our structures and the game-plan,” Gobbels said.
“There will be a good crowd and the weather’s going to be great, but you just rely on the things you’ve put in place over pre-season and at training.
“I think it was good having the week off to freshen up, Blackburn are always a really good contested side so the game will probably be won in the midfield and we’ve got a couple of really good inside mids, hopefully we can just dominate a little bit there and get the ball in the forward line for as many goals as possible.
“They’ve definitely got a really talented forward-line, but in saying that I think we’ve got a really talented and solid unit in the back-line and led by Kris Pendlebury, the boys really complement each-other.
“It’s an exciting feeling in the group at the moment so we’re looking forward to it.”
Both Eade and Gobbels relish the opportunity the club has been given to play on Good Friday and are looking forward to what is sure to be an entertaining game of football.
“It’s going to be a great day of footy, so hopefully we can get as many people down as possible and get our first home win of the season,” Gobbels said.
“A game on Good Friday is terrific, having a stand-alone game in the past has had big crowds and I think it’s a privilege in this league and for the club to be involved is a great opportunity,” Eade said.
“Two strong clubs and good teams are going to be playing and hopefully we can draw a big crowd.”
Listen to this week’s Good Friday clash live on 1377 SEN+, live video stream via EFL.org.au or download the crystal-clear 1116 SEN mobile app. Click here for broadcast details.