“As good as the improvement was, there’s still a lot of hard work to be done.”
That’s the message Busselton league coach Steve Lester has for his players as the team looks towards the 2019 South West Football League season.
Busselton finished the 2018 season in eighth place with seven wins, an improvement on the previous year’s three-win season.
Despite the improvement in the wins column, Lester said it was a disappointing result for the club not to make finals.
“I thought if we had made finals that would have been a good result given where we had come from,” he said.
“It was a little disappointing in the end. Not in terms of the effort from the guys but just that we ultimately fell those couple of games short when a finals spot was within reach.”
The Magpies sat just outside the top five on percentage alone with just four games to go in the season, but losses against HBL, AMR, Donnybrook and South Bunbury meant the team fell short of its first finals appearance since the 2015 grand final win.
Lester said the team’s improvement came from ‘better balance’ around the ground.
“I think we had more balance across the ground this year,” he said.
“Getting Steve Cameron and Tom Fleming in the ruck and as a big forward gave us better structure so we weren’t relying so much on undersized guys up forward as we have done previously.”
Lester also said he was pleased with the growth of some of the younger players in the team, in particular 19-year-olds Mitch Tenardi and Liam Creighton.
He said Tenardi’s ability to come into the team and hold his spot in the midfield was really impressive from the first year player, while Creighton performed at a higher standard than expected after missing the previous season with a serious foot injury.
However he said the Magpies still had areas they needed to develop to become a finals contender next year.
“We could do with another tall or two and increase the midfield depth a little bit,” he said.
Lester said like all teams, Busselton had been hit with injuries but hadn’t had the depth to cover the loss of players such as Mason Hislop.
“If you don’t have the depth to cover that [loss], that’s ultimately where we fell short in a few games.”
Lester said that with hard work over the off-season, Busselton has the components to improve again further.
“I think the future is looking solid if we continue doing the things we are doing,” he said.
“The nucleus we’ve got of about 15 or so local guys who’ve been there two or three years now, that holds us in good stead going forward.
“The key will be for the players to know that we were close but weren’t quite good enough at the end and that’s only going to come from extra hard work.”