By Connor Schmidtke
Donvale have started to make their move up the ladder in the EFNL’s Division Three, climbing to third after their stellar win over Scoresby last Saturday.
The Magpies recorded their sixth win of the season and their second in a row, downing Scoresby by 10-points in a reasonably high-scoring affair. Donvale’s accuracy in front of the big sticks proved vital, slotting 16 of their 22 scoring shots while bringing up the magic 100 in the final term.
The win against Scoresby marked the second in a row for Donvale, after they comfortably dispatched the Whitehorse Pioneers the week prior, thanks to 13 goals from rising star Ethan Duncan.
A real highlight of Donvale has been their offensive prowess in 2022, scoring the second most points of all teams across the division. Their healthy percentage will also bode well for the run home to finals, with a stacked ladder behind them and matches against Warrandyte, Ferntree Gully, Coldstream, and the Waverley Blues to come.
The man in charge at Donvale is none other than legendary coach, Kevin Collins.
Collins has spent stints as coach of Donvale in the past, leading them to their 1994 and 1996 premierships. He has also spent time coaching in the VFL and at junior level for Donvale, boasting one the best resumes for any coach in the EFNL.
Collins returned to the club in 2020, preparing his playing group through the Covid interruptions to give them the best chance at a premiership run this season.
When asked about how he kept his players ready, Collins said a lot of the credit went to his playing group.
“We’ve been lucky because all our boys have come back,
“We had a good preseason, with a successful camp. During the covid pandemic the biggest danger for a lot of people was the lack of social connection, so we emphasised a lot on social connection and camp was fantastic for that,
“The club is really tight at the moment, it’s in a really good place.”
One of the key characteristics of a great coach is the ability to understand his playing group and to connect with them.
Collins said that understanding circumstances that may keep players away is a big implementation at Donvale, helping to make it easier for players to remain part of his side.
“From my perspective, you have to be more lenient with commitments outside of footy. Say work or something like that, if the boys can’t get to training in the past they don’t play. But we’ve been more lenient with that, and the boys have been honest with it too.”
Donvale’s win against Scoresby may prove to be an important one in the long run, setting them up right in the hunt for finals towards the back end of the year.
Collins said his side were forced to work very hard to claim the four-points, but managed to implement their gameplan to great effect to overrun Scoresby.
“They’re a good outfit, hard to beat at home.
“They like a short game, and they want to play fast, and they want a scrap,
“So, we had to try and take that scrap away, and then get it on the outside and keep them inside the contest.
“It was a close contest right up until the end of the game. I thought their forward line functioned well, but we got on top in the midfield,
“The game was in the balance right until the 31-minute mark of the final quarter.”
At half-time Donvale trailed by 15-points and were staring down the barrel of a third loss in four weeks.
Collins said his side needed to get first use, and deal with Scoresby’s pressure better.
“We were hanging onto the footy a little bit too long and they brought a lot of pressure. We had to turn up our pressure as well,
“Our tackle count in the first half was 34 and in the second half it was 49,
“We allowed them too high of a conversion rate in the second quarter especially.
“We had to tidy up our starting points and our defensive pressure both in the backs and midfielders, we came in with a more defensive mindset rather than attack, and I think we did that pretty well.”
Before the back-to-back wins, Donvale had suffered two consecutive losses against Coldstream and the ladder leaders, Waverley Blues.
Collins said that he and his side learned a lot about themselves and their competition across those two weeks, picking up valuable insight for the remainder of their season.
“We probably learned about our execution and making the sure the whole group is on the same page.
“We had in both of those games, one poor quarter and that set the scene for the rest of the game.
“Coldstream was winnable, but our defensive pressure probably wasn’t up to what we needed it to be. Waverley Blues got hold of us, they shook us around and we didn’t respond.”