The Clarence Football Club remain in touch with the competition’s pacesetters after recording an impressive 14-point win over the previously undefeated Magpies on Saturday afternoon, with a new-look pack of Roos led by versatile utility Ryan Bailey.
Trouble was brewing for the Roos on Saturday afternoon when in-form big man Wade Wall went down with a rolled ankle in the opening quarter of the match.
Up against undefeated arch rival Glenorchy, who are led by star ruckman Cameron Duffy, the Roos had their backs to the wall at KGV Oval.
Enter Ryan Bailey.
Bailey rucked for the majority of the day thereafter and more than kept his own in competition with Duffy, winning his own share of hit outs while also moving well around the ground and kicking a sensational goal from a ball-up inside 50.
Bailey wasn’t caught completely off guard by the role, however, with Wade Wall’s rolled ankle only fast-forwarding the inevitable, with Wall already set to miss the back half of the season due to an upcoming trip.
“Wade went down early in the first quarter and the coaches said for me to battle it out as much as I can in the ruck for 15-16 minutes at a time and just do the best I can.
“I played more of that kick behind the play sort of role and I think it worked pretty well. We were able to get on top a bit in the third quarter and it went a long way to us winning the game,” Bailey said.
Clarence coach Jeromey Webberley conceded Wall’s injury may have made the Roos’ search for a new ruckman all the easier.
“Lucky for Wade there’s no serious damage, he jets off on his trip in three weeks anyway so we won’t see him again in 2018.
“For the next month we will use Ryan as the standalone ruckman and have a mid go in like Richmond [in the AFL with Toby Nankervis], or maybe a Harry Richmond can go in, he has a good leap.
“We also had Connor Berry play his first game against North Launceston and he was really serviceable. We will take a look at that and make a decision later in the year,” Webberley said.
Bailey, who was coaching at Brighton last season, made the move to rejoin his brother Jason at Blundstone Arena and provides the side with plenty of flexibility, and in the absence of Wall for the majority of the year, he now looms as one of the Roos’ most important players.
Bailey was pleased with his performance, but acknowledged the significance of getting the better of traditional rival Glenorchy.
“It was a good feeling, it was good to come away with the four points. They are always a tough team to beat and there is nothing better than going out to Glenorchy and beating them out there on their home ground. Jez spoke to us about it all week and we really hyped ourselves up for the game.
“It was the best game I’ve played this year. It was good to get back into a little bit of form and to get back on the winners board after two losses,” Bailey said.
The win was made all the more impressive due to the absence of midfield gun Brady Jones, stalwart Trent ‘Speedy’ Standen, Ryan Edmondson, Keegan Wyllie and Wall.
“The younger guys really stood up. We all played our role.
“I think it was our best four-quarter performance so far. We lacked that competitiveness against Launceston but we really brought that intensity against Glenorchy and it showed in the result.
“We showed that if we stick to our structures and play the game the way we want to play it, on our day we can match it with all the sides in the competition,” Bailey said.
It is a new-look side donning the red and white in 2018, with a host of young players like Harry Richmond and past fringe players including Alex Silver delivering performances that have pleased Webberley.
“It was probably the youngest we have been since 2013 on the weekend, the group we have coming has really good talent and want to play good footy every week. It’s an exciting club to be around and our young players have really stepped up and taken the opportunity,” he said.
Webberley is confident his players will be able to build off this momentum against the Tigers at Kingston’s Twin Ovals on Saturday.
“It goes to show that if you bring that pressure, you can beat anyone. We won some critical one on ones and our attack on the ball was outstanding, when you have that it lifts the team. We need to make sure this is the baseline.
“That win on the weekend gives the playing group and coaching group great belief that we are on the right track,” Webberley said.