Sunshine Kangaroos coach Barney Hallinan sees the high football IQ of his team as a major asset in its quest for a top three finish in the Western Region Football League division 1.
Hallinan has been impressed with his team’s ability to understand and execute game plans, and adjust on the fly when the tide is going against them.
It was those football smarts that aided the Kangaroos to pull away from a plucky Wyndhamvale at Wyndhamvale South Oval on Saturday, turning a 12-point lead after an uninspiring first half into a commanding 51-point win.
“We do our due diligence as coaches and players,” Hallinan said. “We’ve got a much more experienced list this year and they’ve all bought in.
“The conversation we had at half time was more solution focus about what we’re going to do in the third term, because you can’t get the second quarter back.
“Most of the message I was giving the players. they understood, because we’ve got a team that are very intelligent and can understand what I was asking them to do, so they were able to get on top in the third quarter.”
It was not all rosy for Sunshine.
The propensity to go missing for a quarter here and there against lower ranked sides is frustrating for the brain’s trust.
While there is a gulf in class between the sides, it was not evident on the scoreboard at half time because Wyndhamvale fought tooth and nail to stay in the game.
“I thought Wyndhamvale were really competitive and it probably surprised our boys a bit how hungry they were,” Hallinan said. “One of our challenges will be just maintaining our pressure against weaker teams as we do against the better teams in the competition.
“We’ve got to learn from today because that has wavered from time to time. We did enough to win the game, but we’ve got a lot of improvement in us.”
Sunshine’s second half was a stark contrast to its first.
The Kangaroos lifted their intensity defensively, restricting Wyndhamvale to just one goal and two scoring shots in the second half.
Captain Hayden Moloney led from the front for the Kangaroos with his repeat efforts a feature.
Daniel Castellano (five goals) and Jake Allen (three) were outstanding in the front half.
Castellano had four of his five goals by quarter time and provided his usual defensive pressure, while Allen was both a finisher and provider.
But when the game was there to be won, it was Ben Dessent who lifted for Sunshine.
Dessent’s unwavering attack on the contest was infectious on his teammates.
“Ben’s a young player that just doesn’t want to get beaten,” Hallinan said. “He’s a really smart footballer, he’s coached well by his line coaches and he listens.
“We rode him in the third quarter, he was just sensational for us. His defensive efforts were terrific.”
Sunshine keeps hold of third spot ahead of the visit from St Albans to Kinder Smith Reserve on Saturday.