Hasleby sees plenty of positives from Round 1

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 6:26 PM

DESPITE Saturday's loss to Claremont in Round 1 and an injury to full-forward Ben Saunders, South Fremantle coach Paul Hasleby still found plenty of positives against the reigning premiers to look with optimism towards the rest of 2013.

Even though the Bulldogs were without a host of key players and then lost Saunders to a broken collarbone early in the second half, they played well in the first half with scores level at half-time and then showed some good fight in the last term to not totally get blown away.

Coming up against the premiers of the last two years and doing it without Craig White, John Sgherza, Brendon Gulley, Nick Borovac, Ashton Hams and Shaun Bewick just to name a handful from what could be considered South Fremantle's best 22 it was always going to be tough.

Obviously it's never fun to lose and Hasleby knows his team has plenty of work to do coming out of the game against Claremont, but he also saw plenty of positives particularly the debuts of Kingsley Smith and Tom Vandeleur, the efforts of Sean Tighe in the ruck as well as the games of Ryan Cook, Alistair Gillespie, Mitch Carter, Mitch banner, Anthony Collica and Kris Miller.

"In the first half we showed some terrific signs, the ball movement was good and we were getting it into the right areas for our forwards. We probably could have gone in with a bit of a lead, but we didn’t and Claremont proved why they are a quality side after that," Hasleby said.

"They flicked the ball around pretty well and got some dominance around the clearances in that third quarter. We had a few guys playing their first games and also some coming in off a limited preparation so we still certainly take some positives out of the game.

"It was disappointing we didn’t win because we were in a position to at half-time, but there were so many positives that we take out of it. It's Round 1 and we need to win some games now, and we'll give it our best shot against Perth."

The bad news from the game was the collarbone injury to Saunders and obviously last year's Bernie Naylor Medallist will be a big loss, but Hasleby is confident that the return of Sgherza and possibly moving Andrew McCarrey forward could help offset his absence.

"It looks like he will out for about six weeks. We have two byes in that time so hopefully he only misses three or four games, but we will get John Sgherza back up and running in the next week or two so maybe he could come in and help us out," he said.

"Obviously we will miss him though, 65 goals from last year will be hard to replace. McCarrey could go forward. Vandeleur did very well and held his own down there, Gulley should come back into the team and we will have to look at finding avenues to goal so McCarrey could be one of them."

Gillespie did well in his first game for South Fremantle since crossing from Claremont over the summer. He attacked the ball well from centre half-forward and finished with 13 touches, five marks and a goal.

"He competed very well 'Dizzy'," Hasleby said.

"He took a couple of spectacular marks and he still has some work to do, and he can take a few more if he keeps his hands outstretched and we will work with him, but to have that extra tall player to support Saundo and Gumby in the forward-line is pretty important for us."

Without a doubt, though, South Fremantle's best was ruckman Tighe who finished with 22 possessions, 22 hit outs and two goals up against Claremont pair Mark Seaby and Mitch Andrews, and their combined AFL premiership and three WAFL flags.

"I've always thought Sean is a great ruckman and one of the better ones in the competition because he gets the ball, wins clearances and now he's starting to add goals to his game," he said.

"He kicked two goals as well and when he was up against Seaby and Andrews it was a tough combination, but I thought he did a very good job against them."

Another positive was the performance on debut up forward of 21-year-old Smith. Hasleby was a big supporter of his to come down to South Fremantle and was glad to see him kick a couple of impressive goals, and he was rapt to see Vandeleur step up while aged just 17 at the time.

He turned 18 just this Wednesday.

"Kinger and I come from the same hometown so when I got the job I got him down to play with us. He did it tough last year in the reserves, but he kept working at his game and he certainly has got some great attributes which I love as a coach. He was terrific," he said.

"And what a great story Tom is. We had Gulley out suspended so we needed to play a taller defender because we thought they would have Jones as well.

"It turned out it didn’t pan out that way, but Tom came in and certainly held his own for a kid who hasn’t trained with us. I think he's still 17 so he has a big future ahead of him."

South Fremantle now has the bye this week before taking on Perth at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium next Saturday, and Hasleby is confident that at least White, Gulley and Sgherza will be available to come in.

"All bar Borovac and Bewick should be right to play in two weeks time. Borovac will get the wrapping off his thumb that week so we will see how he goes, but it's a big two weeks for us and we need to get a lot of training into those guys to make sure they do well when they come in," Hasleby said.

"Collica came in this week off a limited preparation and he was terrific because we now have a good fitness guy in Mike Vegar who can get guys up and going.

"We have to hit the training track and try to improve as much as we can. We will give the guys a bit of time off on the weekend and then it will be business as usual next week."

By Chris Pike