Defence becomes X-factor for Hawks

KEY TRIO: Eaglehawk team-mates Brenton Conforti, Luke Button and Glenn Daly before Thursday night's training session at Canterbury Park. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

KEY TRIO: Eaglehawk team-mates Brenton Conforti, Luke Button and Glenn Daly before Thursday night's training session at Canterbury Park. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

Eaglehawk Football Club training: Photos

THEY usually concede height and weight to many of their opponents, but Eaglehawk's defenders have played an integral part in the club's on-field success.

The Borough's latest performance in which it held Sandhurst to 51 points was arguably its best in the 2014 season.

A 19-point victory against the Dragons in what was a must-win clash for Eaglehawk meant it jumped to fifth place and an elimination final.

Eaglehawk coach Luke Monaghan said the "back six" which has altered at various stages had been superb all season.

"There's only been two games where our defence really battled," Monaghan said.

"We learnt a lot from those defeats," he said of a 69-point loss at Golden Square in round seven and by 115 points in the 15th round at Gisborne.

"In both of those games not all the blame could be put on the defence. Our defensive efforts all over the field were not at the level we needed them to be," Monaghan said.

The Two Blues will fight to keep their season alive in Saturday night's elimination final against Golden Square.

Monaghan said the play of key defenders Brenton Conforti and Tyler Miles and the experienced Luke Button and Glenn Daly would be crucial.

"Defence has been a strong focus in my time at the club and those four players have been excellent all season," he said.

Button's leadership and ability to swing from full-back, to half-back or to on on-ball role is a key in the coaches plans.

"Tyler Miles is one of the most versatile players in the competition," said Monaghan.

"He has taken on classy small forwards like Stephen Milne at Strathfieldsaye and Mitch Dole at Sandhurst, or been up against big forwards Cameron Rinaldi at Kangaroo Flat and Tyson Macilwain at Maryborough."

After a six-week stint overseas earlier in the season, Conforti has slotted back into the Hawks' defence with ease.

Daly's rebounding and long kicks off half-back have set up many attacking moves.

The Hawks also have Ricky Dudley available for selection in week one of the finals series.

Bendigo Bank Pioneers clubmates Josh Ryan and Dylan Hanley are likely to start in Eaglehawk’s defence against Square.

“For  a 17-year-old, Dylan Hanley play with a lot of composure, has great skills and makes good decisions,” Monaghan said.

Eaglehawk could use Cam McGlashan and Sam Thompson, son of club legend and senior team  runner Darren Thompson,  through defence as the elimination final rolls on.

In his fourth year as senior coach at Canterbury Park, Monaghan said defensive pressure must rise in a match where so much is at stake against a club chasing a sixth consecutive premiership.

“Tackles, smothers, spoils are so important in every part of the ground.

“Quality teams like Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye, Gisborne and Golden Square can tear you apart if the defensive effort is not there.

“We must have four quarters of sustained pressure.

“Some 10-minute lapses cost us in matches against the top four, but we have kept learning and improving.

“Our defensive play against Sandhurst was great, but we must take it to another level.

“It will take 22 contributors for us to beat Golden Square. The belief we can beat them is definitely there.” 

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