Werribee midfielder Joe Maishman has been a mark of consistency, earning weekly praise off his teammates and ticking most of the boxes in his game review sessions with the coaches, but he has been striving for a “5-10 per cent lift” in his game all season to have a bigger impact on matches in the Victorian Football League.
You are often your own harshest critic and that seems to be the case for Maishman, but he did concede that he finally got that lift he wanted out of his game on Saturday, producing his best performance of the season in a 50-point win over Frankston at Avalon Airport Oval.
Maishman was the standout two-way player for Werribee.
His first brief was to nullify the influences of Will Fordham and Nathan Freeman, two of Frankston’s driving forces.
Then, Maishman had to win his own ball to hurt his opponents the other way.
The 23-year-old certainly did that, accumulating 27 possessions, including 10 clearances and eight inside 50s, to go with eight tackles.
It was all about impact for Maishman and he felt like he had a bigger influence over the game than in recent times.
“I’ve probably lacked a little bit from where I wanted to be this year,” he said.
“I think I have been playing my role, but I’d like to be having just a bit more impact in all aspects of my game.
“That was definitely my most complete game for the year.
“I had a job on a couple of their players and I thought I did them pretty well and then I managed to find my own ball, have a bit of impact clearance-wise and laid a few tackles.”
Werribee has secured back-to-back wins over stand-alone sides in the past two weeks to move up to sixth on the ladder.
The boys in black and gold are now a game and percentage clear inside the top eight.
Maishman admits it is a “relief” to get back to the winners’ circle in the past fortnight after four straight losses between rounds 12-15.
“It was getting pretty frustrating, the close losses we were having there,” he said.
“There’s definitely been a few – or even the majority – where we think we’re in the game and in with a chance to win, but we haven’t been able to get over the line.
“The last two wins have been great.
“We set out in the last five games of the year to win them all.
“We’re two out of two with three to go, so hopefully we can keep ticking them over and that will put us into good stead for finals, hopefully.”
Werribee’s bigs came to the fore in the win over Frankston.
Angus Clarke worked hard in the ruck, Nick Coughlan and Ryan Hebron were resolute defensively and Jake Riccardi was a focal point with four goals.
Crumbers Jack Henderson (three goals), Joel Bennett (two) and Matt Munro (two) were dangerous when the ball hit the ground.
Maishman said the smalls benefited from the impact of the talls on the day.
“Our big fellas seem to have an impact every week,” he said.
“They’re all great in the air, they’re either marking the ball or bringing it to ground so smalls can get rewarded with a few goals.
“I think our mix [of talls and smalls] has been unreal this year.
“That’s our big strength I think.”
Michael Barlow and Tom Gribble broke tags to finish with 30-plus possessions each.
Werribee will face a third stand-alone side in as many weeks when it travels to play Coburg Lions at Piranha Park on Sunday at 12.30pm.
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