Defence the key to Dogs’ attack

Golden Square's Clayton Anderson will go head-to-head with Strathfieldsaye star Lachlan Sharp.
Golden Square's Clayton Anderson will go head-to-head with Strathfieldsaye star Lachlan Sharp.

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In two finals this September, Golden Square has scored a total of 17 goals.

To defeat Strathfieldsaye in Saturday’s BFNL preliminary final, the Bulldogs will probably need to kick at least 13.

Unless star forward Travis Baird (hamstring) is a shock late inclusion for Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs will go with the same personnel inside forward 50 that kicked 10 goals in the qualifying final and seven in the first semi-final.

So can the Bulldogs improve their scoring against the Storm? Square coach Bernie Haberman says an emphatic “yes”.

Haberman said Square’s improvement on the scoreboard will hinge on its defensive pressure forward of centre. 

 “We have scored reasonably well against the top sides this year,’’ Haberman said.

“We have the ability to score, but in the last two weeks we have struggled to score.

“In the last two weeks we haven’t controlled field position as well as we did throughout the year, so that’s made it hard for us to score.

“We can score more this week, but it’s a matter of making sure we don’t get stuck in their half of the field.”

Golden Square's Tom Toma and Strathfieldsaye's Jake Hall.

Golden Square's Tom Toma and Strathfieldsaye's Jake Hall.

That was the tale of the tape in the qualifying final.

The Storm had more of the ball, but the Bulldogs defended stoutly to keep the game close.

In the end the Storm won 9.19 (73) to 10.4 (64).

“We felt like we defended well. A lot of those Strathfieldsaye shots were deep or from the boundary and there was seven rushed behinds,’’ Haberman said of the qualifying final.

“28 scoring shots and 20 more inside 50s certainly indicated that Strathfieldsaye dominated general field position.

“We absorbed that really well, but we don’t want to absorb like that again this time around.

“We need to hold the footy inside our forward line better because we thought we looked reasonably dangerous when we got the ball in deep last time.

“We fell down across half-forward and the wings, so we have some work to do there for sure.”

Square’s need for more pressure at ground level forward of centre was the reason behind its one change at the selection table.

Young ruckman Daniel Keating was omitted, while 17-year-old livewire Liam Marciano returns to the senior side.

Haberman said his side wouldn’t use Strathfieldsaye’s heartbreaking three-point loss to Eaglehawk in the second semi-final as ammunition.

“For me, it’s more about what we need to do, rather than how Strathfieldsaye is feeling after last week,’’ Haberman said.

“Once the game starts, stuff like that really doesn’t matter. We won’t be thinking about how Strathfieldsaye probably should have won last week or the fact that we could have lost last week.

“We need to start the game well because we need to start well. We can’t let Strathfieldsaye get a five-goal lead like they did against Eaglehawk.” 

Strathfieldsaye's Kallen Geary and Golden Square's Bailey George.

Strathfieldsaye's Kallen Geary and Golden Square's Bailey George.

Kallen Geary turned the qualifying final in Strathfieldsaye’s favour with a dominant final term.

Haberman said the Bulldogs needed a team defence mindset to hinder Geary’s influence on Saturday.

“You need a team effort to stop quality players,’’ Haberman said.

“If we control field position and get good structure forward of the footy, then it helps to potentially minimise his production.

“Realistically, he (Geary) is going to get ball at least 20 times. It’s how he gets them and what he does with them that’s the issue.

“You’re not going to stop him from getting the footy… he’s too good. I thought we did a good job on him for much of the last game we played, but he had the last laugh.”