Good football sides just seem to find a way.
Werribee Districts was a long way off its best form but produced enough to get the job done in a scrappy 17-point win over Altona in the WRFL division 1 opening round at Grant Reserve on Saturday.
The Tigers are still piecing together new coach Paul Chapman’s game plan and were met by a tricky opponent up for a fight.
Tigers captain Matt Dean said working on the Chapman approach in practice matches was one thing, putting it into practice when four points were on the line was quite another.
“It’s a different game style and it takes a while for everyone to get their heads around it,” Dean said.
“The first half of footy, they probably controlled the game, used the ball really well, spread out wide and closed us in when we had the ball.
“They were playing a game style that we were trying to implement, but unfortunately for the first half we weren’t able to get our game going.”
Things started to click into place for Werribee Districts after half-time.
The Tigers kicked five unanswered goals to take a commanding 27-point lead into three-quarter time.
Still, plucky Altona made a game of it in the last quarter, aided by a return of sloppy ball use by the Tigers.
“Our disposal all day pretty much hurt us so we’re not overly rapt,” Dean said. “We’re happy to get four points in the end but we’re not happy with how it was played out.”
Bol Kolang had a massive influence over the game for Werribee Districts.
Kolang, who has transferred from the Werribee VFL outfit, showed his quality in the ruck.
“He really stood up in that third quarter,” Dean said. “He dominated in the ruck and took a few grabs around the ground. He’s very athletic and is a hard match-up for the opposition. He’s going to be a really good asset to us.”
Andrew Panayi was dangerous for the Tigers both as a small forward and in the midfield.
He snared two goals and picked up some valuable possessions when thrown on the ball.
“He’s got a really good engine, he’s agile and he’s quick, so he’s always a bit of a headache for the opposition,” Dean said.
“He’s always been used up forward as a bit of a goal sneak, but the fact he can push up the ground and accumulate a few more possessions makes it a bit easier for us in the midfield.”
The Tigers will face Wyndhamvale on Saturday in a new Wyndham senior derby.
“It’s back to the junior rivalry which we had all the way through to the under-16s,” Dean said. “It’s the first chance we’re going to be able to see them up in division 1 … we know they’re going to be crashing in all day and whoever does it the best will win the game.”
Elsewhere in division 1, Wyndhamvale had a tough start to life in the top-flight, losing by 59 points to Albion at Wyndhamvale South Oval.
Hoppers Crossing had plenty to cheer about after opening its campaign with a 35-point win over St Albans.
In division 2, Manor Lakes was more competitive second time up but trailed at every change in a 32-point loss to Albanvale. Glen Orden suffered a 66-point defeat at the hands of North Footscray.
In division 3, Tarneit won a thriller against Newport Power by 11 points and Sanctuary Lakes had to work hard for a 22-point victory over Laverton.