Defence is the strength of Altona and that will not change in the foreseeable future.
The Vikings are renowned stingy operators in the Western Region Football League division 1 and coach Saade Ghazi wants that reputation to remain intact.
A narrow one-point loss to Werribee Districts in a low scoring game at J.K. Grant Reserve on Saturday will not change Ghazi’s thinking that his side’s elite defence will eventually take the Vikings to the promised land.
Asked if they needed to up their scoring in 2019, Ghazi was dismissive that it would take over as a priority.
“We’re defensively strong as a group,” Ghazi said.
“If you’re only conceding 60 points in a game, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity to win.
“We’re not a side that is going to allow a side to kick 15 goals and we kick 20.
“We don’t play like that.
“We play good team defence and when you do that, you’re not going to score as heavy.”
Altona was in a winning position at three-quarter time.
The Vikings led Werribee Districts by 10 points and looked set to record their second straight victory.
With a slight breeze favouring the visitors in the last quarter, Werribee Districts finished the stronger with three goals to one in the last quarter.
While disappointed to let the lead slip, Ghazi was pleased with the performance of his side.
“It was a good quality game that could’ve gone either way,” he said.
“Unfortunately we were the ones who were behind by one point at the end of it all.”
Altona had its chances to build an unassailable lead.
Patrick Rose, usually the Vikings sharpshooter, had the radar off with 3.6.
“He won his position, but another goal or two would’ve been handy, especially when you look at the margin in the end,” Ghazi said.
A focus for Altona in the off season was to get away from the ‘Paddy-whack’ strategy of Rose having to kick the bulk of the team’s score.
Rose was the leading goalkicker in the competition with 81 last season and will continue to be a focal point, but the Vikings are looking for a more even spread, which is what they got in a round one win over Hoppers Crossing when the star forward went goalless.
“You’ve got to get better from last year and one thing we’ve identified is we’ve got to spread our goalkickers amongst the group,” Ghazi said.
Ghazi is not too concerned about the loss to Werribee Districts, but is on high alert about the response.
With tough matches against Spotswood and Deer Park in the next two rounds, the Vikings do not want to fall behind the win-loss ledger.
“We’re 1-1 and it’s not a bad start,” Ghazi said.
“You want to stay ahead of the ledger in wins and losses.”
The next fortnight of matches might strike fear into some clubs, but not Altona.
The Vikings are in a premiership window and make no secret of the fact they see every game as winnable.
“We’re in a position now and it’s been like that for 12 months where we expect to win every week,” Ghazi said.
“That might sound greedy, but that’s where we are as a footy club now.”
Ghazi was full of praise for the defensive efforts of Kelly Pickard, Lee Spiteri and Jayden Post in the loss to Werribee Districts.
Jordan Robbins was best for the Vikings for his tireless work at the stoppages and threat he posed up forward.
Aside from a Good Friday game between Braybrook and Laverton at Pennell Reserve, the WRFL will have a week’s break over Easter.
Meanwhile, Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney kicked a goal on debut in Spotswood’s 166-point annihilation of Albion.
Wayne Patak and Dylan Callard kicked four goals apiece for the Woodsmen.
In division 2, Parkside made it two-from-two with a 28-point victory over North Footscray.
Brent Kelly is the form forward in the competition with his six goals for the victorious Magpies taking his tally to 13 in two games.
Newport enjoyed a hard-fought eight-point win over West Footscray, sparked by four goals from Mahmoud El-Hawli.
Yarraville Seddon survived a scare to beat newly promoted Point Cook Centrals by six points.
In division 3, Laverton suffered a 39-point loss to Tarneit.
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