IT’S a cliche, but it has been one of the driving messages of Calivil United coach Anthony Dennis ahead of Saturday’s Loddon Valley league grand final against Bridgewater at Serpentine.
And that’s the importance of producing a four-quarter performance against the Mean Machine and learning from past mistakes.
Twice this season the Demons have been unable to capitalise on half-time leads against Bridgewater and been beaten.
The first was in round 15 when they blew a 39-point half-time advantage and lost by eight; the second was a fortnight ago in the second semi-final when they were beaten by nine points after leading by 15 at the main break.
They are the only two losses the Demons have suffered this year.
“The past couple of times we’ve played Bridgewater it has been that one quarter or quarter-and-a-half that has cost us in the end,” Dennis said on Friday.
“We know we can’t afford to lapse this weekend and we have to remain focused on the task for the full four quarters.”
Dennis says his side will be better prepared this time if a similar situation unfolds whereby the momentum is going the way of the Mean Machine throughout the game.
“We might have to roll a few back into defence or be aware that we need to lock down a lot tighter on them, but hopefully, it doesn’t come to that and we produce a four quarter performance,” said Dennis, who is in his second season as Calivil United coach.
The Demons’ defence has been bolstered from the last time they played Bridgewater in the second semi-final two weeks ago.
Neither Alex Davis or Matt Magee – both key pillars in the backline – played that day, but both returned to the side from injury in last week’s 37-point preliminary final win over Newbridge.
The Demons made one change at selection on Thursday night, with former skipper Henry Miller coming into the side for Ben Haines (ACL).
Miller missed last week after injuring his ribs in the second semi-final. He was one of three injuries the Demons suffered that day, along with Sam Green (shoulder) and Brodie Fraser (shoulder), who will both miss the premiership battle.
The polished Demons finished four games clear on top of the ladder, with one of their strengths again the kickstart they have got in the middle from ruckman Chris Down.
“He’s one of those guys who loves his footy; he sets himself every week to play the best he can,” Dennis said.
“You couldn’t ask any more of him; he ticks all the boxes and hopefully, he has another big game.”
Down was one of the favourites for this year’s Harding Medal, but it was one of his team-mates who took the honours in captain Ben Knight with 25 votes.
Knight, who has kicked 26 goals, will be a key cog in the Demons’ engine room, while in attack, recruit Bryce Curnow holds one of the keys to Calivil United’s chances of winning its first premiership since 2008.
Curnow, likely to be matched up on by Mean Machine veteran Daniel Nalder, is the competition’s leading goalkicker with 83, which includes twice kicking five goals against Bridgewater.
“When you go after a full-forward you want them to kick a lot of goals and Bryce has done that for us,” Dennis said.
“He has been fantastic for the structure of our forward line and that has then allowed for the guys like Vinni Rodi, Knighter, Luke Marchesi and Lachlan O’Neil to have all kicked plenty of goals as well.”
Sportsbet has the Demons $1.90 for the flag and Bridgewater slight $1.80 favourites.
Grand final team
Number in brackets is calculated off club best players each week – six votes for the player named best, five votes for the second best and so on.
B: 6. Mitch Brewer (1), 13. Jonas Somerville (9), 47. Matt Magee (40)
HB: 18. Jordan Lea (9),14. Sam Brinsmead (29), 22. Caleb Smith (0)
C: 21. Evan Ritchie (6),5. Anthony Dennis (0), 35. Nathan Ryan (19)
HF: 58. Alex Davis (30),55. Levi Moss (10), 53. Lachlan O’Neil (3)
F: 31. Lachlan McAllister (9), 42. Bryce Curnow (38), 9. Vincent Rodi (18)
FOLL: 10. Chris Down (52), 1. Jake Lawry (27),17. Ben Knight (15)
INTER: 4. Luke Marchesi (27), 3. Henry Miller (8),32. Walter Miller (0), 7. Blair Richards (0)
By the numbers
Record – 16-2
Average for – 110
Average against – 61
Percentage – 180.4
Quarters won – 56/72
Time in front – 81.9%
Highest score – 166v Marong, round 7
Lowest score – 67 v Bridgewater, round 15
Bryce Curnow – 83
Vincent Rodi – 46
Ben Knight – 26
Luke Marchesi – 23