Brett Ratten was proud of the way his team bounced back from their Monday night loss to Geelong. “I thought our first half was very good. We got the game where we wanted it at half time,” he told reporters post match. “To respond the way that we did was really good,” he said.
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After making a point of it following the Geelong game, he was pleased that Brad Hill was utilised more often by his team. “It’s still building that connection between Hilly and the group. When’s the right time and when’s the wrong time. He got more of it tonight which was great but I thought there was some really good players for us. I thought Josh Battle’s first half was fantastic and his ability to impact the game. Max [King] looked like he was going to kick a big score early doors and even Timmy Membrey and Marshall up there aswell. We had a few things going right.”
Ratten was less enthused about his team’s efforts after halftime. “The second half, there’s some things that we probably didn’t like. We got a little bit cute and we tried to muck around with the footy and really fuelled their in-out in-plays and that gave them 25-30 inside 50s in the second half,” he said. “So I thought we did a really good job when the game was up for grabs, we rolled our sleeves up got the job done and got ourselves in a good position. But we could have given Essendon an opportunity there.
He was happy with the way in which the team ‘took the air’ out of Essendon’s charge in the third quarter. “We had to get a little bit of ball control. They started putting numbers back. So you can’t keep playing the same way if they’ve got numbers back giving them the ball. We had to change our approach and I thought our players did it pretty well [but] the last quarter we got fairly cute with the footy, I thought.”
He played a straight bat when asked what it means for his team’s finals hopes. “We just have to keep building,” he said. “What is the magic number to make finals? We’re not sure. Is it nine, is it 10? The half games are going to play a big part in it, the teams that have had draws aswell. Then percentage is going to be like a win as well if you have a decent enough percentage. So it’s going to get very tight,” Ratten said.
“For us we want to put ourselves in a position to make finals. We haven’t done it for eight years. With each win we closer and I think with each win you get a little self belief aswell, so we’ll keep pushing on. We have Brisbane here [The Gabba] next weekend and we know they’re a good team. We’ll just keep one week at a time. I know that’s a coaches cliche but it is true for us.”
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He agreed that the Lions at home was another timely test of where the team stands after their disappointing effort against Geelong. “It’ll be good,” he said. “To get Ryder and Jones back in this week, and Seb Ross aswell, really helped our team. Kent will probably be available. Carlisle will be available. So we could get a few back aswell.”
He admitted that decisions, like the late withdrawal of Ryder against the Cats, was a difficult part of 2020’s Footy Frenzy. “This is the hard bit when you have a condensed season and games we’ve got to look after the players. We might get a game out of him but we might risk him for another three or four games and we don’t want to do that. Even Jones aswell, we wanted to play those boys against the Cats but we couldn’t do it. So we had to bring in Bytel which was great and he’s doing a reasonable job as a young player.”
Before leaving to jump on the bus to Noosa he gave an update on Ben Paton. “He got concussion,” he said. “We’ve got seven days so he might be right but he might not either. So we’ll just wait and see on that call but he’s just got a bit of concussion.”