Focus back on defence for Dragons

Sandhurst defender Tom Hartney returns from injury for his first senior game since round five.

Sandhurst defender Tom Hartney returns from injury for his first senior game since round five.

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SANDHURST coach Brett Fitzpatrick says his players must regain the defence-first mindset that served the Dragons so well earlier in the Bendigo Football League season.

The attention to defence at Sandhurst has been turned up this week on the back of the past two games when the Dragons conceded 31 goals against Kangaroo Flat and Maryborough.

Sandhurst won both games, but when the Dragons played those two sides earlier in the season, they gave up just nine goals.

“We’ve addressed as a group the difference in our past five or six games compared to where we were in the first five or six,” Fitzpatrick said on Friday.

“Up until that Gisborne game (round seven) we played the best footy we have this year and we shared the ball instinctively and willingly.

“But since we stared the second half of the season, I think a number of the guys became a little complacent in the amount of effort they need to put in, and as a group we started to play more offensively of the contest, instead of primarily being defensively orientated.

“The guys are now aware that over the past couple of weeks we’ve opened up our back end by not being primarily defensive, which was part of our game that was so strong at the start of the year.”

The Dragons were a ruthless defensive outfit in their first seven games when they conceded just 43 goals.

But they have given up 71 goals their past seven games, including 20 last week against Kangaroo Flat at Dower Park and have now been overtaken by Strathfieldsaye as statistically the best defence.

The Storm have also overtaken the Dragons at the top of the ladder.

The Dragons take on Castlemaine at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday and welcome back one of the club’s most consistent defenders in Tom Hartney, who returns from injury for the first time since round five.

Castlemaine will be determined to produce a much more competitive showing than last time against the Dragons. The Magpies were belted by 151 points by Sandhurst in round five in the most one-sided game of the season so far.

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