“Proud” Fraser thrilled for playing group

Box Hill Hawks vs Northern BluesBox Hill City Oval

Josh Fraser’s Northern Blues enjoyed a memorable win against Collingwood yesterday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)

Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser spoke of his pride in the playing group after his side conjured up a clutch win yesterday.

After trailing by seven points late in the final quarter against Collingwood, Northern dug deep to grind out a four-point win.

It was the team’s second win of the season and the Blues were made to do it tough, having reduced numbers on the bench in the final term.

Fraser said the playing group was deserving of the victory, given their efforts on the day as well as the signs they’d showed in the weeks leading up to the game.

Read below for Fraser’s full thoughts on the victory in the Round 12 Matchworks coach’s report.

The response to the win:

I’m really pleased for the players, and not only them but the staff and everybody connected to the club. I guess we thought we were a pretty good 1-8 side leading into today and some of our footy this year has been really good.

The learnings of the young group have been that we’ve been a bit inconsistent: yesterday we showed that — despite having some players under some injury clouds during the game — we are able to fight out a win. That sort of win helps build the club to where we want to go.

The nervy final moments:

The most pleasing part was, as a coaching group, we wanted them to keep backing themselves in and they did. The last three or four minutes of the game weren’t pretty, we made some mistakes but we were able to correct those in different phases. I was really proud of the maturity the group showed, they’ll get a lot of belief out of that performance.

A lot of players stepped up at really important moments and controlled their contest: you can’t put a price on that sort of win. Our test now is to enjoy it for 24 hours after the game, but make sure we get back to work and attack next week’s contest the same way.

On the last time the two sides met:

We spoke about it more as a coaching group rather than putting it in front of the players — we feel like we’re a different side to what we were in Round 1. We’re only nine games more experienced in terms of the season, but we feel like we’ve improved each week.

The result haven’t come and it’s easy to get impatient with that, but as a coaching group we’ve been really positive with the players and encouraged them to play to their strengths. We want them to play and understand the level: if you’re a young AFL player, we want to set you up for an AFL career, and the VFL-listed boys are still quite young as well.

The message heading into the last quarter:

We had a couple of strategies which, to the credit of the players, they implemented well. We wanted them to keep backing themselves in, they’d shown enough good footy early in the match to give them confidence about how they were playing.

The capacity and ability to defend for four quarters was important and we managed to move the ball the way we wanted to. It took a level of endurance and mindset to run the game out, which is something we asked for and the group delivered.

Who impressed?:

Nick Graham is a super-competitor and whenever he plays VFL football, his mindset and intent to lead this group… I couldn’t ask for any more as a coach. I thought his performance was terrific — not only did he win the ball, he applied great pressure for us.

Andrew Phillips and Matthew Lobbe were really important in the ruck, they gave our mids the look we were after and ‘Flip’ late in the game was able to take some key marks.

Alex Federico and Ethan Penrith — I liked both of their games. As young players, they came back in the side after going out and applied the learnings they’ve had in previous weeks and were really competitive. They’re just a few but to be honest, across the board we were really pleased.

On Jarrod Pickett:

He’s missed a lot of footy, ‘Picketty’ — he’s getting that continuity and game sense back. He’s such an exciting player and just a great kid to be honest. He wants to compete, he wants to do all the right things and he had some incredibly important moments for us yesterday. We’re rapt with his performance and for him to kick the goal in the end was great for him and his confidence.

Footscray to come:

It’ll all be process-driven, we’ll review the game whether it’s good, bad and indifferent. We want the boys to enjoy the feeling of winning, but we’re up against another good side next week. The VFL competition in eyes is so even and each week is a new challenge, it’s a tough challenge and you’ve got to be mentally engaged for the whole week leading up to it. As a young group, that’s something we’ll be focusing on: we must turn up and compete at the same level against the Bulldogs.