Grand final defeat to fuel Bulls’ hunger in 2018

LEADER: Birchip-Watchem coach Tom Carland addresses his players at three-quarter-time. Picture: NONI HYETT
LEADER: Birchip-Watchem coach Tom Carland addresses his players at three-quarter-time. Picture: NONI HYETT

TOM Carland’s final message to his players as Birchip-Watchem coach is to use the disappointment of Saturday’s grand final loss to Wycheproof-Narraport to fuel their desire for 2018.

After four years at the helm Carland has bowed out as Bulls’ coach, one step short of taking Birchip-Watchem from wooden-spooners when he assumed the role after the 2013 season to North Central league premiers.

“The message after the game for the players is to use today to really lift their want and hunger for next year,” Carland said.

“Every kilometre that they run, every weight they lift during the pre-season, be thinking about today.”

The Bulls kicked the opening three goals of the grand final and led by as many as 21 points during a first term in which they dominated the bulk of the play.

The Bulls – who were beaten 9.9 (63) to 7.9 (51) – had seven scoring shots to one to the attacking end in the opening quarter, but for all their control of possession led by just 16 points at the first break, 3.4 to 1.0.

“We needed to kick a couple more goals in that first quarter and then they would have been more worried about us,” Carland said.

“But after that we got sucked into that rolling maul that they like to play, whereas we like to get out and run and the narrow ground made that harder. In the end, we just couldn’t get it done.”

With Carland stepping down, the Bulls have already appointed Lochlan Sirett – who coached their under-16s – as their new senior coach for next season.

“I’ll try to find a coaching job somewhere else. I think four years at one club is probably enough,” Carland said.

“The message probably starts to get a bit stale after four or so years, so I’ll try to find another club that is looking to rebuild and help make it a strong club again.

“It would have been a great way to finish with a win today, but that’s footy.”

Saturday’s defeat leaves 2001 still as Birchip-Watchem’s last premiership season.

However, with the Bulls’ appearance on the big stage Saturday, it means every club – apart from league newcomer Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers that only joined last year – has played in a senior grand final since 2009.