By Murray Silby
“Stick with us, we’ll get there. I hope people know we’re working bloody hard. Not a moment goes by that we’re not trying to fix it. We’ll get there.”
NT Thunder coach Darren Reeves reassures supporters that the club is working overtime to smooth out the roller coaster that is Thunder’s form this NEAFL season.
Thunder started the season with disappointing losses to Brisbane (65 points) and Sydney University (83), a win over Redland (25), another heavy loss to Gold Coast (70), a fighting loss to the reigning premier Southport (11) and most recently, another big defeat to Aspley (79).
Reeves said, at the moment, Thunder’s good is very good and its bad is very, very bad.
“That’s the frustrating thing,” he explained. “Teams, as they’re developing over time, their best footy is often an eight out of 10 or seven out of 10, and their worst footy is a one or two out of 10, but the teams that develop quicker become really consistent and are able to find the balance of five out of 10 when things aren’t going well and they don’t let games get away from them.
“At the moment, it’s not from game to game or quarter to quarter, it’s actually moment to moment where our effort level and the way that we go about our work at one moment is an eight out 10 and the next moment it’s a one out of 10.”
Reeves said the coaching staff and players are working hard on smoothing out the peaks and troughs and developing a more consistent level of effort to prevent opposition teams running away from them during games, as Aspley did in the first and third quarters on Saturday night, kicking six goals to one in each of them.
“One piece of play is outstanding, the next is just horrible and the complete opposite in all that we’re trying to do so the real challenge at the moment is just trying to find that and we’re just going to have to keep doing that and the more we do it, the better they’ll get,” he said.
The Thunder coach said he doesn’t have any doubt his players have the ability to match their NEAFL opponents.
“We were talking about the exact same things after the Gold Coast game and then we followed it up with the great effort against Southport so how do we get that again this weekend and then keep it consistent after that? That’s the challenge,” he suggested.
“You look at all the NEAFL results this year, one week teams are beating a team that you’re a bit surprised about and then the next week that team’s getting beaten by a team that probably shouldn’t beat them so it’s been up and down a little bit, apart from the top couple.
Sitting last on the NEAFL ladder with just the one win, Thunder hosts Canberra at TIO Stadium on Saturday night and is only one more victory behind the Demons, who are in eighth place and out of the top six by percentage.
The Demons are coming off a bye in Round 7 and an 89-point loss to Brisbane in Round 6.
Canberra is a talented side though having played finals football last season.
“They’re really strong,” Reeves said. “They’ve got some strong bodies and are strong around the ball so it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
Thunder will face that challenge without three key players – in form backman Daniel Weetra, on baller Phillip Wills and key forward Hugo Drogemuller who have all been called away for work duties.
Possible ins, however, include experienced backman Joe Anderson, key forward Kieran Delahunty, small forward Ross Tungatalum and on-baller Jess Budarick.
NEAFL Round 8: NT Thunder vs Canberra – 6.30 pm Saturday 25 May, TIO Stadium – Darwin