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Swans getting ready to fly

Avenel's senior football side makes a welcome return to the winners list.

CHALPAT SONTI June 5, 2014 3:37am

Don Stirling in full flight.


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That’s more like it.

Avenel’s senior football side accepted the challenge laid down by player-coach Cameron Gillett and turned it into a five-goal win at Rushworth on Saturday.

The Swans were coming off a dismal performance against Tallygaroopna before the interleague bye and needed the win to get their season back on track.

And with a side featuring the return of star midfielder Don Stirling and Matt Dundon from injury and a couple of ‘‘old boys’’ in Grant Hateley and Jeremy Meek from Broadford, that is exactly what happened.

While Hateley didn’t last long — the centre half back suffered a rib injury after about five minutes — the others put in strong performances, leading to a happier coach than a fortnight earlier.

‘‘We looked a bit better and those new inclusions made a difference,’’ Gillett said.

Not that it was easy going against the Tigers at the small Rushworth ground.

‘‘The ground probably didn’t play well to our structure,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘The first half was scrappy and congested and they probably played better than us. They played a bit of a rugby union style of footy, running in numbers and pushing the ball forward.’’

After half-time Avenel changed a few things around and the game also changed.

‘‘Once the last quarter came our fitness came into it — we were a lot fitter than them. The bigger guys up forward like Cael (McCarthy) and me, they didn’t have anyone to match our size and we made use of that.’’

Todd Heaysman started to dominate in the centre and the Swans could have won by a lot more.

‘‘But to finish off strong was a good sign,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘Once we could break it open we knew we would run away with it. We stuck to our structure and I pushed that before the game.

‘‘It only takes one or two to step outside that and you completely lose it, like what’s happened in the last few weeks, we’ve been down and we haven’t been able to peg it back. Now we’ve straightened up the spine of our team which is really good, having those guys come back, the rest of the guys can see what happens when we stick to our structures.’’

Gillett put the heat on his players at the Thursday training prior to the game as well as on Saturday morning.

‘‘I told them it doesn’t matter how good you are at this football club or how good you’ve ever been, your spot is never safe. There’s only two or three players who are safe and I told the group they need to stand up during games and say ‘pick me’.

‘‘Once Subba (Paul Arandt, who missed the game through work commitments) and Greeny (Andrew Green, likely to be about three weeks away due to injury) come back there will be even fewer spots up for grabs and the pressure goes on the rest of the group to respond. That’s what we want.

‘‘The first three or four weeks we always had three or four key guys out, but soon we’re going to have 25 or 26 to select from and that’s got to be good for the club.’’

First up is a home game against Ardmona on Saturday and Gillett knows his side can’t afford to underestimate the Cats. The Tallygaroopna loss has other lower-ranked sides eyeing the Swans off.

‘‘We’ve got to be right on the ball again,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘Last week was probably the best training we’ve had for the year and the boys were pretty keen and excited once they saw Grant and Jeremy and Don out there. They walked a bit taller and I think we’ll be a lot better from now on but we can’t take any side lightly.’’

Hateley is likely to miss the game, but Arandt will be back.

‘‘If we can put four weeks of really good footy together ahead of the game against Merrigum we’ll be in better shape,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘These games could set our season up so we’ve got to work hard and play good footy.’’

Avenel4.1, 9.6, 12.8, 18.13 (121)

Rushworth6.4, 9.5, 10.12, 13.13 (91)

GOALS, Avenel: C. Gillett 5, C. McCarthy 5, K. Chapman 3, J. Meek 2, J. Mabon, D. Stirling, R. Lambert.

BEST, Avenel: K. Chapman, T. Heaysman, C. McCarthy, D. Stirling, M. Dundon, C. Gillett.

RESERVES

Avenel was always playing catch-up after a slow start and it got too much in the end as the side went down by 21 points.

Marc Baker kicked three goals for the Swans, while better players included Ray Capuano, Andrew Meiselbach, Hank Woldhuis, Aaron Biddle, Mark Cameron and Nick McDonald.

Rushworth3.4, 6.7, 7.11, 9.15 (69)

Avenel1.2, 4.4, 5.4, 7.6 (48)

GOALS, Avenel: M. Baker 3, A. Meiselbach 2, D. Zoch, N. McDonald.

BEST, Avenel: R. Capuano, A. Meiselbach, M. Woldhius, A. Biddle, M. Cameron, N. McDonald.

UNDER-18

The Swans continue to rule at the top of the table, remaining unbeaten with a seven-goal win at the fourth-placed Tigers.

It wasn’t all easy going though, with Rushworth leading at the first change before Avenel got into gear. The Tigers got it back from a three-goal half-time deficit to trail by five at the final change but the Swans showed their class in holding Rushworth scoreless in the last quarter. Kayd Paine kicked four goals for Avenel and was one of the side’s best on the day, along with Jon Frankel, Josh McDonald, Mitch Berry, Tom Jacobson and Cody Hogan.

Avenel3.2, 8.3, 9.5, 15.6 (96)

Rushworth4.1, 5.3, 8.6, 8.6 (54)

GOALS, Avenel: K. Paine 4, J. M. Donald 3, C. Hogan 3, R. Green 2, M. Berry 2, J. Frankel.

BEST, Avenel: J. Frankel, J. McDonald, M. Berry, K. Paine, T. Jacobson, C. Hogan.

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