BENDIGO Gold coach Aussie Jones has challenged his players to regain the hunger of early in the season when they were the VFL’s best tackling team.
The battling Gold hosts Coburg at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Sunday in what shapes as Bendigo’s best chance so far this season of finally recording a breakthrough win.
Like Bendigo, Coburg is a stand-alone VFL club after splitting with Richmond at the end of last season and has won just two of its seven games this year.
But if the Gold are to challenge the Lions, Jones says his side’s intensity and pressure must lift significantly on the past four games, which Bendigo has lost by an average of 111 points.
“It has been made clear to the players what’s expected of them on Sunday,” Jones said on Friday.
“In the first two rounds we were second in the competition for tackles... the past five games we’re last.
“We don’t talk a lot about results within the group, but we set mini-goals, and tackling is one of them and we’ve been really poor in that area.
“When we were in games earlier in the season, it was our pressure on the opposition that was bringing us into the contest.
“But what’s happening now is teams are going end to end without a lot of pressure, so it has certainly been a big focus for us.
“In terms of giving a good account for ourselves and the people coming to the game, I’d expect Coburg to be put under a fair bit of pressure on Sunday.”
While the round nine game against the Lions has been built up as a winning opportunity for the Gold, Jones says it’s vital the clash is treated as just another match.
“Internally, we need to be careful about setting it as the target for the year, because we’ve got another 10 games to go,” Jones said.
“But it’s a great opportunity and we feel we’ve got a really good side in, so there’s a good feeling around the place.”
The Gold side includes Bendigo Pioneer tall Jordan Mangan selected as the 23rd player.
Sunday’s game at the QEO starts at 1.30pm.