Fraser: Youngsters keep impressing

Jesse Palmer was full of praise for Josh Fraser.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)

Blues fans can be pleased with the progression of their young players, according to Northern coach Josh Fraser. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)

Josh Fraser said there was still plenty of improvement to come from the Northern Blues despite the weekend’s 82-point victory.

Northern recorded its biggest win under Fraser, piling on 10 straight goals to close out the game and emerge big winners.

It was the first time the Blues had recorded back-to-back wins this season, but not without some challenges thrown Northern’s way.

Fraser said the way the Blues managed to come away with a victory despite wholesome changes from the week prior was worth celebrating.

“It was always going to be an interesting game, in terms of how we approached it,” Fraser told the Matchworks coach’s report.

“We had nine changes from our win against Werribee, which is somewhat the story of our season. We haven’t been able to build synergy with our group.

“It’s a weekly challenge at VFL and AFL level, there’s been a number of changes each week. We think and believe that these difficult times will pay us back at both levels.”

Fraser said the Blues’ coaching staff would continue to challenge its players with four weeks remaining in the season.

He said some of the progression made in recent weeks was something to build on in the home-and-away season’s final month.

“Our young guys keep impressing, which is a really good thing and really exciting,” Fraser said.

“We’re seeing some good growth each week which shouldn’t be lost — we want to make sure they approach their footy with a strong mindset.

“We want to make sure we finish the season off strongly and string some wins together, it’ll be good reward for effort. We think our best footy stacks up well.”

Ten straight goals to seal the victory:
I thought we were patchy early: we challenged the boys at quarter-time and half-time to get back to the type of footy we want to play. To their credit, the second half was much better. There are still some learnings even after an 82-point result but we’re rapt with the victory and want to make sure we build consistency for the rest of the season.

What worked well?:
When we got our stoppage work right and our contest was sharper, we were able to move the ball the way we wanted to. I thought we were able to recognise the moment when things weren’t working for us, and we were able to make changes on-field which shows some leadership and growth in the group. The effort the boys have put in has been really pleasing and we want to keep putting ourselves in a position to win games.

Casboult, Kerr and Palmer combining for 10 goals:
They were really dangerous, but it’s easy to forget those guys haven’t played together before, but their attitudes have been great. Jesse’s first-half was outstanding, as was Levi’s second-half. Patty Kerr’s game was consistent, I think he finished with nine shots on goal. He’s someone whose craft and game is developing all the time.

Nine changes from the previous week:
We look at it as opportunity. In someone like Kane Keppel’s instance, we lost Byrne, O’Shea and Rowe from our backline and needed to stiffen that up a bit so we swung him down back. It was good learning for him.

On Ben Hurley’s debut:
It was interesting when I rang him on Thursday, ‘Hurls’ is a pretty reserved character and he didn’t give much away. I almost had to ignite some excitement in him! We were absolutely rapt as a match committee to play him. I thought he was terrific.

READ MORE: Hurley’s debut 18 months in the making

The challenge of next weekend
Casey is a good side that’s going to feature deep in finals and have some really mature bodies. They’ve been able to build that connectedness from a strong alignment with Melbourne and a list profile suggests they’re in that age bracket where they bat deep. It’s a great challenge for us, away from home against a well-drilled team. It’ll be a great test to see where we’re at, it should be really exciting for a young group.

Stand-out performers
I thought Jesse Palmer was really good, while Nick Graham and Sam Kerridge coming into the side won a lot of ball and showed some really good leadership. I liked Patrick Kerr’s game and our young backline stood up really well, with guys like Blakey, Keppel, Macreadie, Schumacher and Stavrou all back there.

On Harrison Macreadie’s return
He came back on allocated game-time and showed his ability to compete in the contest, win his own footy and use it quite well. Most importantly, he got through the game unscathed and he’ll continue building from here.

READ MORE: Macreadie makes successful return