By Connor Schmidtke
With the race for finals set to be tight in the Eastern Football League’s second division, wins have never been more important for the teams trying to claim a spot in the top-five.
One of those teams is The Basin, who are attempting to claw their way back after a winless first four weeks.
The Bears enjoyed a promising 2021 campaign, recording nine wins from their 12 games before the season was cut short. With a full and hopefully uninterrupted season upcoming in 2022, The Basin were searching for another successful regular season and the potential for a deep finals run.
But three losses and a draw from their first month of football put those hopes on hold, sending the Bears near the bottom of the ladder.
The Basin coach, Justin Stanton, said it was a reasonably disappointing start to the season.
“It’s been a slow process. Our confidence has been down, after the first four rounds.
“We set high expectations as to how we wanted to start the season off, and we didn’t meet those in the first four rounds, partly due to the opposition, but partly due to the way we failed to implement our game plan.”
The start to the season however has been slightly misleading.
Out of the first four games, The Basin suffered a three-point loss, a 15-point loss and a draw, showing that they were extremely competitive despite it not showing on the scoreboard.
This was also impressive considering that the Bears blooded five young debutants through the early part of the season, including three 17-year-olds.
So perhaps it wasn’t surprising when the results started turning in favour of The Basin.
The Bears have recorded two thumping wins against Knox and Oakleigh District the past two weeks, to put their season right back on track.
Stanton said there were a few factors that lead to their improved performances.
“It was a combination of a few things.
It was predominantly us working a lot harder around the football.
“We rotated different guys through the midfield, so that we would be able to change the look of it regularly.
“I guess part of our game style allows for the basics, if we can get the football forward enough times, the dam wall will inevitably break, and we’ll score.”
This theory proved effective in their two wins, with The Basin racking up a whopping 62 scoring shots across the eight-quarters of football. They kicked reasonably inaccurately in those two games, but still managed to get to a pair of game winning totals.
Stanton highlighted the keys for The Basin if they want to remain competitive in their division.
“There are no secrets to the way we play. It’s got to be high intensity around the football, and then we must move it quickly and generate pressure forward of the footy.
We figure with the talent we have up in the forward line, we will inevitably score.”
At the start of the season, Stanton stated that finals were the goal for his side and despite their shaky first four weeks, that goal hasn’t changed.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to play finals. In a 10-team competition, you have to finish in the top-five.
“That is still our goal. We haven’t shied away from that.
“We think that really whoever is lucky enough to make that top-five, can knock anyone off at any given time depending on personnel and so forth.
The first goal is the next three weeks, turning at the halfway mark ahead of the ledger. The overall goal is certainly to make the five and play finals.”
The Basin will face one of their sternest tests this weekend, when they take on East Burwood on Saturday.
The Rams have started the year like a house on fire, winning five of their first six games while scoring the most points per-game of any team in division two.
Stanton holds great admiration for East Burwood and their start to the year, but believes his side can challenge the premiership contender.
“They’ve been outstanding. Everyone was a little bit uncertain as to how they would go in this division, but they have ticked all the boxes. They’ve been impressive.
“We’ve just got to make it an uncomfortable environment for them, coming to our home ground. We have to be prepared to work hard, not for two and a half or three quarters, but for all four quarters.
“We figure if we can play four quarters of football, then we can take it right up to them.”