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North City heads for first finals campaign

August 08, 2011, 12:54 PM AEST

 

GAV MCGRATH

07 Aug, 2011 11:59 PM

IT IS a done deal. North Ballarat City will play finals this season for the first time.

The MECU Ballarat Football League’s newest club crossed the nine wins barrier when it turned the tables on Bacchus Marsh on Saturday.

Even if East Point was to win its final two games by an extraordinary margin and somehow scrape into the six, it would be at the expense of Ballarat, not North Ballarat City.

A host of new recruits since last season, including Ayden George, Ryan Hobbs, Ryan Luke and Michael Todd, has lifted the black-and-whites from a bottom three proposition to a potential top three side.

Club president Stephen Darbin says the most important arrival has been coach Rob Waters.

“Our best recruit has been our coach. I think he is one of the best coaches in the business,” Darbin says.

“He has the ability to understand and implement a game plan, but he also has an ability to relate to people. He knows which players to go hard on and those he needs to encourage along.

“Most of the recruits are former players who have come back after playing at the higher level, such as Ayden George, Ryan Luke and Tyler George. What they’ve been able to do is come into the place with that experience and provide guidance to some of our younger kids, who are now lifting as a result. They are able to analyse and develop their own game.”

Despite achieving an important milestone by ensuring at least one final this season, there is little fanfare coming out of the club itself.

“There has been a real expectation, particularly after we won some games against quality sides Lake Wendouree, Redan and Ballarat earlier in the year. We had some expectation that we had a side good enough to make finals, so it probably has dimmed the achievement,” Darbin says.

“Perhaps after the season we’d look back and assess it but, now it has become a reality, it is probably not much of a big deal for the players.

“They’re now hell-bent to not just go into the first week of finals, but to progress further.”

Waters meanwhile, has already shifted the focus from simply making finals to winning them.

“Theoretically we are close to finals. We’ve loaded up with high-end training,” Waters explains.

“We’ve increased the number of sessions, and extras such as recovery, and training is a lot longer. That will taper off after Sunbury, but it is about getting into a physical condition for finals.”

With North Ballarat City, Redan and Melton South now safe, in terms of making finals, the spotlight now shifts to Ballarat and East Point.

For the Kangaroos, beaten comprehensively by Redan on Saturday, it’s do or die time.

For more BFL stories, go to the Ballarat Courier website.

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