Even amid the chaos of a 21-point deficit at quarter-time, Williamstown coach Andrew Collins was thinking about a development opportunity for his players.
Collins has the ability to not only develop his players better than most coaches in VFL, but does so while also winning games of football.
On this occasion against Casey Demons at Downer Oval on Sunday, Collins used his team’s quarter-time plight to offer an education to Seagulls captain Adam Marcon.
Collins instructed Marcon to go one-on-one with Jordan Lewis for the rest of the game for two reasons.
Firstly, Lewis was carving the Seagulls up and had a 40-possession game in his sights, and, secondly, what better player for Marcon to learn some tricks off in the heat of battle than Lewis, a four-time AFL premiership player.
Not only did Marcon get a few lessons from one of the best players in the modern era, but he halved, if not bettered, Lewis’s output for the rest of the day.
Marcon would play a significant role in Williamstown’s come-from-behind 16-point win over Casey.
“It was a great experience for Adam to be running around next to Jordan,” Collins said.
“Jordan was leading the Casey team and I just wanted Adam to experience that and also lead our team.
“For him to match Jordan in regards to the output for the next three quarters and for him more so to lead our group, that’s why I put him best on ground.”
Collins was fairly measured with his instructions at the quarter-time huddle. He implored his players to chip away at the margin.
Cutting the deficit back to 15 points by half-time was a big win as it meant that Casey’s red hot start had been somewhat neutralised and the Williamstown players went to the break feeling much better about themselves.
“The message at quarter-time was let’s just even it up, let’s just get into the fight and that’s what we did,” Collins said.
Williamstown turned the game on its head with a five-goal-to-nil third quarter. It was the quarter that set up the Seagulls win – their fifth in seven games to have them half a game out of second spot.
Collins rated the victory highly because the comeback was measured and deliberate.
“To be able to come from four goals down where the opposition are really dominating you and get back into the game and be able to have your own period of playing really well, it was an outstanding victory,” he said.
Mitch Hibberd could have argued for his claims for best-afield. Hibberd overcame a slow start to have major impact with 31 disposals and nine tackles. The former North Melbourne-listed player demonstrated his toughness inside the contests, his ability to spread and a hard defensive edge.
Jaylon Thorpe played his best game for Williamstown, finishing with 3.3 and 11 disposals.
Christian Buykx-Smith, who had a serious illness last year and is still getting back to his full capabilities as a footballer, showed encouraging signs with three goals.
Collins also picked out Joel Tippett, Jack Charleston and Nick Ebinger for praise.
Williamstown will face a tough trip away to Box Hill Hawks on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Footscray has moved up to second on the ladder with a gutsy 19-point win over North Melbourne on Saturday night.
Lukas Webb was the leading possession-getter for the Bulldogs with 27. Tory Dickson, (three goals) and Callum Porter, with 19 disposals, nine tackles and two goals, had a big impact.