Macleod have turned their form around to cause a massive upset in Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1, defeating West Preston-Lakeside by 11-points at J.E. Moore Park.
Following disappointing losses to Greensborough and Northcote Park in their previous two matches, the Roos clicked into gear in the second half of a low scoring affair, leading by as much as almost five goals in the final term, before holding off a spirited Roosters fight back to win 8.9 (57) to 9.14 (68).
Luke Joyce and Reid Brandt were dominant up forward, kicking six goals between them, while Lucas Hobbs was at his prolific best in the midfield as he sent the Roos into attack on multiple occasions.
With Ahmed Saad still absent from the West Preston-Lakeside squad, Aidan Tilley did his best to lead the scoring charge for the Roosters, kicking four majors off the back of slotting home five goals last week, while Joshua Iacobaccio was influential in his return, kicking two important last term goals.
The victory put’s Macleod up to sixth on the ladder, just four points and percentage outside the top five, while for the Roosters, they fall to fifth, the first time they’ll finish a round outside of the top four since Round 15, 2019.
Macleod coach Craig Hayes was over the moon with his side’s performance, saying it was a reward for the effort the Roos had exhibited in the first five weeks of the season.
“It was a really well-deserved win and I said to the guys, really go and enjoy yourselves, you worked really hard to get this result,” he said.
“It’s very hard to win up here against West Preston-Lakeside who are such a quality outfit, so it was rewarding to get a victory like that.”
The Roos were the heavy underdogs heading into the match following a poor four-point loss to the winless Northcote Park last week.
But Hayes knew that what they were doing was working, but rather it was the execution as well as the lack of discipline that caused the defeat.
“We were pretty considered in our review of the Northcote Park game and at the end of the day, we had more shots on goal and had more inside 50’s. We created enough opportunities to give us a chance of winning the game, but we didn’t finish,” he said.
“We also gave away two or three goals through ill-discipline, so we spoke about owning that during the week, and we accept that what we did was not what we expect as a playing group and the players were enourmous in leading that.
“Today, apart from the first goal of the game, we didn’t give away those ill-disciplined free kicks and it makes a difference in a low scoring game.”
Hayes also praised the structure of his forward line throughout the match, as while Brandt and Joyce were converting their chances, it was the work of their teammates in the attacking half that led to those opportunities on goal.
“Balance within our forward line is pretty important to us, those guys [Brandt and Joyce] punch above their weight, they play like six foot three blokes at times and they’re so valuable to us if we can get the footy to them one on one,” he said.
“But as valuable as those two are, if the other four guys aren’t working as hard in getting those matchups right and creating the right amount of space and giving the support at ground level, then the efforts of those two won’t be enough.”
It was the home side who had an impressive start to the match, kicking four goals to one in the first term, highlighted by an impressive snap from the boundary by Aidan Tilley.
The Roos picked up the pace in the second quarter as they started to win more of the footy.
Joyce had a dominant term, winning a free kick and converting his set shot before kicking a brilliant goal close to the boundary not long afterwards to get Macleod back in the contest.
Trailing by 11-points at the main break, Macleod continued to put West Preston-Lakeside on the backfoot after half time. Kurt Manuel kicked a brilliant goal out of nothing before incredible majors from Brandt and Joyce put the visitors in front.
Jacob Smith kicking his first career goal for Macleod in the final quarter was a great highlight as teammates came from everywhere to show their appreciation, his goal extended the margin to almost five goals for the Roos.
But the Roosters weren’t going to give up without a fight, as the home side kicked three goals in three minutes. Two of them were impressive majors from Joshua Iacobaccio while Tilley added his fourth goal in the process.
Despite the game switching momentum in the late stages of the final quarter, Macleod were composed under pressure to regain control of the match and hold on for victory, a facet of the game Hayes was most impressed with.
“It was pleasing how we were able to respond, we were able to keep possession of the footy and take a little bit more control on the speed of play,” he said.
“West Preston-Lakeside had to play fast footy in those late moments, so we just had to recognise that we didn’t need to go fast. We played out the end of the game really well.”
The Roos will have the chance to secure back-to-back wins when they clash with Whittlesea next Saturday afternoon, but Hayes is weary of how competitive the division is, with every side capable of of producing a big win.
“The competition is such at the moment that if you’re not getting an even contribution from everyone, you’re going to find yourself in trouble as far as wins and losses and we need to keep that mindset going all year,” he said.
The Roosters face a huge task next week when they travel to War Memorial Park to face Greensborough.