Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 10:44 AM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth's longest serving coach Bill Monaghan spoke following Saturday's win against East Fremantle that kept the Falcons in the 2017 WAFL finals hunt and looked to this Saturday's clash with the league-leading Subiaco at Leederville Oval.

QUESTION: It was scrappy but in the end you just needed to find a way to win to keep your season alive and you did that?
Our third quarter was great but it was an ugly, ugly against a side that is sitting towards the bottom of the ladder and who have struggled to win in the second half of the year. The good thing for us is that confidence and belief has been really down, and we know that if we play like that against better teams that we will struggle, but the fact is the players are feeling better after a win. It keeps our finals hopes alive even though they are slim given East Perth had another good win and the fact that we have the top side next week. With Swans losing though, they finish against Claremont and East Fremantle and we are only a game behind them. Our percentage is about the same as theirs so that gives us a couple of options to go in but we have the big road block of having to play Subiaco. All we can do is go out, try our best and try to play the style of footy we want and if we're good enough to win then we'll win. It's not as if we haven’t been trying and striving to find ways to win, but things had been conspiring against us and we hadn’t been doing things extremely well. This was a step in the right direction but we're still a way off where we need to be.

Q: Do you try to really focus on that third quarter this week to show the team what can happen when they are playing well, or do you look at what didn’t work the rest of the game and work on fixing that?
It's a fine balance but what we do most of the time is we try and find things that make the players feel good about the way they are playing the game. A lot of our focus is on when our ball movement is good, but we also need to understand that if we're poor in certain or there are areas we need to improve in that we can't gloss over them. We've made significant gains this year and our ladder position doesn’t reflect it, but going into last week we were the third highest scoring team in the competition, we were third best with inside-50 differential and we were the third most effective side in scoring when we went inside-50. They are all things that we wanted to achieve at the start of the year, but to do that we've dropped off in other areas we need to be good at to beat the best sides in the competition. It's a real fine balance between what we are trying to achieve short, medium and long-term. I'm buoyed by the fact that our ability to generate scoring shots has improved, but clearly at 45 per cent kicking efficiency means we're doing too many things wrong. We kicked 8.15 again and if we had kicked 15.8 we win by eight or 10 goals and it's a bit of a stronger win. That has become a pattern this season and I'm not how many games it has actually cost us winning, but obviously it is a factor and it costs us confidence and percentage. it can have a significant impact because we can be playing well and still go into half-time or three quarter-time three or four goals down because of our poor conversion. Again this week at one stage we had 18 scoring to seven and were only a goal up. Eventually we should find ways to improve that and change it, but it's not as though we're not trying to do that already and it's not as if anyone tries to miss a shot at goal. We have more good news with our personnel and Mitch Peirce has now played four in-a-row, Brayden Antonio has played four in-a-row, Nathan Alexandre has got eight games this year, Scotty Nelson is due back this week and we are getting time into those players. Those are all positive things but as a coach you are in the business of putting out results and the last two months has been below what we expect regardless of personnel and goal kicking. But if you take a more wholistic view of it, there's significant learnings and development happening as well.

Q: You naturally look a stronger liner-up when you get Kody Manning, Andrew Strijk, Michael Lourey and Mark Hamilton back?
Hugely and players would have been significantly buoyed by having those players back. And I think all those four guys made significant contributions. Strijky went to a familiar role at half-back and had 24 touches. Kody was good both pressure-wise and with run off half-back. I thought Hamilton was in our best couple and he did a really good job in conditions that were conducive to tall backs competing against tall forwards. But a lot of people look at Mark Hamilton and can find deficiencies in his game, but he has done a lot of good jobs for us this year and he did a fantastic job this week. That's what we judge him on. Then with Lourey, it wasn’t a day for key forwards but we've been toying earlier in the year when he was playing and then the last couple of weeks whether he could play back because we want to play Nick Rodda forward at stages. We don’t think Keitel, Rodda and Lourey would work in the same forward-line and I thought Mike gave a good effort down back. We are buoyed by that but that's a one off and he'll probably start full-forward next week. We just know now that there's another string to his bow potentially should we need to mix it up.

Q: What do you need to do against Subiaco to at least give yourselves a chance?
Given that we've played them twice and we've lost both times by 11 points, I'd say score 12 more points than them. A bit of a theme of our season is that we've been up and down, but we just need to take our opportunities when they arise because we know that a side like Subiaco will dominate periods of the game. We need to minimise the damage in those periods and when we've got control, then we have to find a way to hurt them on the scoreboard. Our short-term dilemma will be whether we try to close the game down and make it a slug or do we take the game on and try to be free-flowing and kick more scores than them. Most sides that have tried either way have found it difficult and there aren’t too many chinks in Subiaco's armour. We have been lucky I guess that we played them early in the year when they weren’t going as well as they are now and we only got beat by 11 points. And we lost by 11 points here in the swimming pool game and that was after a goal literally kicked on the siren after we were within five points. I'm not sure whether anyone outside the West Perth players and coaches will believe it, but we think that if we play to our very best and take our chances that we are a chance to win. But we think that every week and we are 2-6 in our last eight games.