When the Goulburn Swans took to the field against the first-placed ANU Griffins on Sunday, their expectations were not high.
As a young and inexperienced side up against the most formidable opponents they had faced all year, coach Simon Treloar was simply looking for a good attitude and consistent effort throughout the game.
"I don't think we went into it thinking that they were a team we'd get close to," Treloar said.
"But the way we came out, it looked like we might have been the team that deserved to win for most of the first half. They showed up a bit better in the second half, but we still managed to stick with them."
The final score was 10.9.69 to 6.2.38 in favour of ANU. Though it was a loss, Treloar said it was arguably Goulburn's best performance of the year.
"It's definitely right up there, I think the first three quarters were really red-hot," he said.
"We ran with them for most of it, and the way we tackled, the way we defended, and the way we attacked was excellent."
The Swans decided to bring an aggressive intent to this game, which paid off almost immediately with an early goal.
With a host of new players to the game, Treloar has been happy to see small but consistent improvements each week. In most matches, he has set the team a goal of staying steady in defense and trying to mitigate damage.
But Sunday's more positive mindset seemed to free up the players, and produced a much closer match than anybody expected.
"I told the boys at the start of the game that we had defended reasonably well against Yass, who are a quality outfit," Treloar said.
"They beat us by 20 goals, but we held them back and it was much better than it could have been. I said 'today, I don't just want to defend, I want to attack as well'.
"They took that on board and took opportunities to score. We didn't just play to not let them score, we wanted to score ourselves ... it was really good to see."
The change in mindset also appeared to produce an improvement in accuracy from Goulburn.
From eight scoring shots, the Swans produced six goals. This is a significant improvement on past matches, in which the ratio of behinds to goals has sometimes been as high as 2:1.
"It was very, very windy on Sunday," Treloar said.
"There's not much protection at that ANU Oval, it was windy but we just got as close as we could to goal and took our opportunities when they came around."
This weekend will see a return home for the Swans, when they take on the Batemans Bay Seahawks at Goodhew Park. The match will begin from noon on Saturday, June 26.
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