By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee failed to show up for the first 40 minutes and played catch-up the rest of the day in a 16-point loss to Port Melbourne in the Victorian Football League on Saturday.
The visiting Werribee players were shellshocked when they looked up at the scoreboard at the six-minute mark of the second quarter to see the Borough in front 51-1.
Werribee ruckman Angus Clarke said no matter how hard his side worked to get back into the game, the deficit was too much to overcome.
“We put ourselves in too bigger hole,” he said. “We lost the game in the first 40 minutes.
“Their pressure was exceptional, probably something we haven’t come up against yet.”
If there is a commendable trait in this new-look Werribee side, it is its willingness to fight out games until the final siren.
That spirit was on show against Port Melbourne, as they seriously threatened, getting back to within 20 points, only for a goal-for-goal last quarter to dash their hopes of a miraculous comeback.
“It’s good to be part of a team that doesn’t throw in the towel because there’s nothing worse than getting blown out and feeling like guys are giving up,” Clarke said.
“It’s hard to come away with much positive feedback out of it, but we stuck at it and didn’t get blown away, so hopefully we held a little bit of respect there.”
While results have been positive for Werribee – it is 3-2 after five games – Clarke said the side has a long way to go to reach its full potential.
With so many moving parts in the off-season and a new leadership, the team is only scratching the surface of what it can deliver this season and beyond.
“It’s a process with us at the moment,” he said.
“We’re a pretty new group and everyone is getting to know each other.
“There’s going to be patches where we get it wrong, but there was some pretty exciting footy in there as well.”
The area of the ground that Clarke can impact the most is at the stoppages.
The Norwood premiership player has been impressed with the two-way work of midfielders Tom Gribble, Matt Hanson, Joe Maishman and Dom Brew, but admits the connection between the onballers and the ruckmen is far from the finished product.
“We need two-way mids that can attack and defend and they’re doing that pretty well,” Clarke said.
“We probably need to get a little bit of a clean up as far as connection from the ruckmen to the midfielders.
“I think we’ve been OK, but we’re definitely building that still.
“Hopefully within a few weeks, we’ll start to click there.”
If Clarke, 29, could buy some repetition and time with his onballers, he would.
Given that’s not possible, he and fellow ruckman Jack Berry are doing everything in their powers to build that connection both in training and on an emotional level.
“It’s sort of getting to know the other players on a personal level,” Clarke, who is in his first season at Werribee, said.
“When you get that connection, you start to learn little tricks with each other, hand movements and eye movements and you don’t make things as obvious as you would otherwise.
“They’ll start to understand how Jack and I hit the ball and we’ll start to understand how they take it from one play to the next.”
Clarke has made a smooth transition from Old Melburnians in the VAFA to Werribee this season.
It is his second stint in the state league system after playing for Norwood in the SANFL.
“I’m really enjoying my time and I enjoy the professionalism of it,” Clarke said.
“You’re looked after pretty well, so you’ve got no excuse to be off your game or not progress if you want to.”
Werribee will face Footscray – another three-win side – in a western derby at the VU Whitten Oval on Saturday at noon.