Werribee’s successful return to the field

Joe Maishman gets a kick away. Picture Belinda Vitacca Photography

Tara Murray

Werribee overcame some early rust to make it four wins in a row in the Victorian Football League.

Having not played since May 23 and having only been back on the track a week after a COVID-19 lockdown, Werribee was expecting a tough start against Greater Western Sydney.

It proved to be the case with the scrappy Werribee side trailing at quarter time. They would pick up the momentum after the break and would never be headed in the 15.8 (98)-7.8 (50) win.

Werribee skipper Michael Sodomaco said the game felt more like the opening round of the season, than a midseason fixture.

“We just tried to liken it to round one a bit,” he said.

“There was that energy and enthusiasm, and a few cobwebs with match pressure and skills, and then heavy legs 10 minutes in you get in round one. Basically that’s what it was.

“We scrapped it out in the first quarter and stuck with them, then found our feet in the second quarter. It was a really good, positive day.

“First week back you want to take the win. It was one of those danger games with some obstacles that you don’t often face.”

For Werribee coach Michael Barlow it was about stripping it back to basics in the second quarter to get the game on their terms.

“We had four or five weeks off away from footy with a disjointed lead up,” Barlow said.

“I applaud the boys for coming back in good condition, though the first quarter showed a month off with some rust around the ball.

“We were expecting and understanding of that.

“For the boys to fight back into it after half time was terrific.

“Sods [Sodomaco] was really vociferous in his opinion that we had been there before and wholesale changes weren’t needed.

“They are such a coachable group. From that point, we just stripped it back to the basics…. Going back to the contest and trying to win the contest.”

While happy with the win, Barlow said there were still some things to improve on including the last kick inside 50.

Barlow said Tom Gribble led the way for the side in the second half.

He said Matthew Lobbe in the ruck was really strong and rewarded with a goal late when he was sent forward.

Shaun Mannagh, who kicked three goals, Jack Henderson who spent more time in the midfield and Joe Maishman, who had the job on Tanner Bruhn, were the other standouts.

While the players were back on the ground, supporters had to watch from home with no crowds allowed.

Barlow said it gave a different feeling to what they are normally used to at Avalon Airport Oval.

“To our supporters, members, board members, who make Avalon Oval a special place, we really missed you today. It didn’t have the same feel of a VFL match.”

Werribee this week faces North Melbourne which has won its last two matches. Barlow said they would have their work cut out for them to make it five on the trot.

It will be a big day for Werribee with Tom Gribble playing his 100th VFL match and Dom Brew playing his 50th game for the club.