Brookers improving but work remains to done

Caleb Marshall has been excellent for Gembrook Cockatoo this season. 403692 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Marcus Uhe

With no Outer East Football Netball in the region over the weekend, it’s time to look back at what has transpired so far in Premier Division, team-by-team.


Ladder position: 9th

Win-loss record: 2-6

Leading goalkicker: Michael Firrito (11)

Individuals impressing: Ben Schultze, Michael Bourne, Caleb Marshall, Konner Allcott, Patrick Snoxell.

Points per game: 55.7 (9th)

Points against per game: 81 (9th)

Big games to come: R12 v Berwick Springs (H), R14 v Mt Evelyn (14), R15 v Emerald (A).

Predicted finish: 9th

The long weekend break came at an ideal time for Gembrook Cockatoo, in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

A bright opening to the season saw them storm home in the second half against Emerald and Berwick Springs, showcasing their much-vaunted fitness base that was expected to be an ace up their sleeve in 2024.

In the final quarter against the Titans, they threw caution to the wind, moved the ball through the corridor with speed and looked an entirely different side to the previous three terms in a barnstorming finish, kicking the final six goals of the contest after trailing by 25 points midway through the third.

Five consecutive losses since, however, take the gloss off the promising start.

Contests against Wandin, Woori Yallock and Narre Warren offered a glimpse of where they need to be, and while not thrashed like in 2023, there’s still a lot of work to be done to reach those levels.

Losses to Officer and Mt Evelyn were winnable contests they let slip through their fingers, and kicking for goal has fast-become an Achilles heel.

Across eight games they’ve kicked 61 goals and 80 behinds, featuring five matches with more behinds than goals.

If they are to contest for a place in the top six, its contests against sides in the middle rungs that they could not afford to lose, but unfortunately, it’s what they did.

In patches, like against Berwick Springs and Emerald, they’ve shown the capacity to put their foot down and lift the intensity when required, but the challenge now is turning patches into games, and four-quarter performances.

Defensively they concede nearly five less goals per game than they did in 2023, but the offensive production remains similar, suffering a two-point dip.

Talls, Benjamin Schultze and Patrick Snoxell have been shining lights for the Brookers in the ruck and in defence, respectively, and Aaron Firrito has continued where he left off from an excellent 2023 as the team’s driving force in the middle of the ground.

Michael Firrito conceded that he’s not a fan of their current predicament.

“I won’t shy away from the fact that we’d like to be in a better position that what we are,” the Brookers coach said.

“We lost games that can go either way but I felt like the Officer, Mt Evelyn, Olinda Ferny Creek games, we were right in them and probably let them slip.

“Taking nothing away from them, they were tight games and we were right in it, we just weren’t able to capitalise on opportunities and finish them off.

“It’s disappointing to be 2-6 but I guess it’s an indication of where we’re at.

“We’re not quite there yet and we’ve got a bit of work to do still.”

They’ll get the chance to peg wins back against Olinda Ferny Creek, Officer and Mt Evelyn in the second half of the season, and clashes against Berwick Springs and Emerald will be crucial in maintaining the one-game buffer between themselves and the relegation zone, to solidify their place in Premier Division.