It was all about the four premiership points for Hoppers Crossing coach Steven Kretiuk after his side’s rousing 26-point win over Werribee Districts in the Wyndham derby at Hogans Road Reserve on Saturday.
Kretiuk downplayed any ulterior motivation that would come from beating their main rivals in the Western Region Football League division 1.
“Ever since I’ve been there, we’ve never touched on the rivalry,” Kretiuk said.
“To me, I think it’s more external then internal.”
Kretiuk conceded that a win in the Wyndham derby could mean more for some individual players.
From a team perspective though, this result was about the big picture for Hoppers Crossing and the importance of a victory that keeps his sixth-placed side in touching distance of the top five teams.
“I know some of the guys play against each other in juniors and right the way through, so as players they maybe have a bit of a rivalry,” Kretiuk said.
“At the end of the day, we want to win any game we play.
“Werribee is obviously a top three side and to get the points today, we’re really proud of the players.”
Hoppers Crossing took control of the match with a big second quarter.
The Warriors banged on 6.6 to 1.0 in the second term to open up a commanding 39-point lead at half time.
A re-assessment by the Warriors coaches at quarter time led to a change in game style that proved effective.
“We simplified our game a bit at the stoppages,” Kretiuk said.
“We tried to handball a fair bit out of stoppages in the first quarter when there was no exits, so we told the guys to put it on the boot a bit more.
“Werribee tried to roll their half forwards into the stoppages and create a few more numbers and we just couldn’t find clean exits.”
“Kicking more out of stoppages worked.”
The reason why Hoppers Crossing’s quick transition to attack worked is because of the insatiable appetite of its small forwards.
Once the ball was inside attacking 50, the likes of Daniel Strnak and Riley Kitchen worked so hard to keep it locked in.
The lively Strnak got rewarded with a game-best four goals.
“Our forward line pressure was as good as it has been all year,” Kretiuk said.
“Once the ball hit the ground, we looked really dangerous.
“Our small forwards hunted that footy and created opportunities for everyone.”
Hoppers Crossing was generally solid across all lines.
Brandon Houlihan and Mitch Palma gained huge territory for the Warriors with kicks out of stoppages.
Ruckmen Harley Armstrong-Weston and Daniel Riosa were dominant in the air. The talents of the big men compliment each other, so they can afford to have shorter bursts in the ruck and stay fresher for longer.
There was a question mark defensively for the Warriors after Nathan Williams succumbed to injury in the first quarter, but the likes of David Barbieri, Braden Ferrari and Ryan Kitchen thrived with the extra responsibility.
“The defenders were outstanding,” Kretiuk said.
“We were down one of our key defenders early, but all the rest of them stood up.
“All in all, we didn’t have a lot of players that didn’t contribute.”
It has been an up and down season for Hoppers Crossing so far, but it has started to hit its straps in the past three weeks with the win over Werribee Districts preceeded by a stirring win over St Albans and a tight loss to Altona.
Kretiuk savoured the victory over Werribee Districts for all of an hour before turning his attention to a massive game against Spotswood at McLean Reserve on Saturday.
“We enjoyed the win, but we move on,” Kretiuk said.
“We’ll look at Spotty now and ‘Eamesy’ [Spotswood coach Anthony Eames] has got them firing, so it’s going to be a big ask.”
Werribee Districts will face St Albans in a fourth-versus-fifth clash at Soliders Reserve next Saturday.
In other division 1 games, Sunshine enjoyed a 44-point win over Point Cook, St Albans got the better of Caroline Springs by 21 points, Deer Park thrashed Albion by 161 and Altona pipped Spotswood by a point in a thriller.
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