Barnard keen to build

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Brandon Yarran evades Blake Roney during their clash in round three. The Panthers have been a real surprise packet so far this season.
Camera IconBrandon Yarran evades Blake Roney during their clash in round three. The Panthers have been a real surprise packet so far this season. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Riding high in third spot with three wins from its opening four matches, Carey Park league coach Richard Barnard is optimistic that his men can build on their impressive start to the season.

“I think where we have been over the past couple of seasons, we haven’t been able to group wins together – as far as our league side is concerned,” he said.

“That will be the challenge for us.

“Turn one win into two and so on – and just keep it positive around the place and see where we sit after the first round of fixtures.”

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Barnard said he challenged his side at quarter time during Saturday’s thrilling three point victory over the Tigers at Kelly Park, with several players lifting across all areas of the ground.

“I think the group has learnt over the past couple of weeks that the competition is very tight.

“Any win that you get, you have to grind it out – we are learning a great lesson about resilience at the moment.”

Although Riese Wilkey has dominated the SWFL goalkicking leaderboard over the past fortnight, several other Panthers are quietly going about their business with minimal fuss, including smart utility Jeffrey Carter.

“This is Jeff’s second year at the club,” Barnard said.

“Last year he came second in the best and fairest count, but he is one of those utility players which we can play on the ball, in the backline or in the forward line.

“He is the type of player most coaches would like two or three of.

“His form has been great so far and I’ve been impressed with his work.”

It will be all hands on deck for the Panthers this weekend despite the bye, with their Kelly Park headquarters transformed into a camping site for young revellers attending the “Groovin the Moo” festival – but Barnard believes they are heading in the right direction.

“It is year three for me,” he said.

“It’s been challenging during the whole time, but once again we have been able to put three decent teams together on the park.

“We are not in the situation where we can breathe out at this point – we still have to keep working hard across all grades numbers wise in terms of club and volunteer level.”

The Panthers have a challenging block of upcoming games, which include travelling to Gloucester Park and facing Augusta-Margaret River, before backing up the following week at home against Bunbury.

Barnard said he was urging his men to grind out every game in order to keep in finals contention.

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