Melton South works on a fix for fourth-quarter fades

Paul Bower. Picture Sebastian Costanzo. The Age.

By Tara Murray

Melton South’s players are hitting the track hard in their bid to climb up the Ballarat Football League ladder.

After a season that included one win and finishing last, the Panthers know there is a lot of work ahead of them.

Coach Heath Pritchard is in his first pre-season at the club, having taken over as coach midway through last season.

He says the pre-season is going well and numbers on the track are pleasing, with the training intensity coming as something of a shock to the players.

“We’ve had the likes of 40 to 50 on the track,” Pritchard said.

“The guys have really ramped it up. The feedback is that it’s harder than in the past.

“We are working hard to improve ourselves. In the games I coached last year, we were up to our eyeballs at three-quarter time before falling away. We don’t want that to happen next year. Clubs will have to work hard for four quarters to beat Melton South.”

Pritchard said the Panthers would be selective on the recruitment front, only adding players who filled certain needs.

The first of those recruits is former Carlton big man Paul Bower.

Bower, who played 90 games for the Blues, joins the Panthers having played a key role for Deer Park in helping it win a sixth straight Western Region Football League division 1 premiership.

Pritchard said the club was thrilled to get Bower, who would add some extra height into the squad – something it missed last season.

“He fills a need,” Pritchard said. “We were determined to bring some height into the side and he’s in a good age bracket.

“He can play both ends of the ground. He’s pretty fit and can run through the midfield as well. We’re excited to have him at the club.”

At this stage, Bower is the only definite signing for the Panthers.

On the other side, Mark Lynch is the big out for the team. Having commuted from Queensland to play this year, he’s chosen to stay and play in Queensland next year.

Former coach Brendan Fevola, who played just one game this year, and another former AFL player in Farren Ray have also moved on. Connor Charge and Dylan Clarke have moved to Melton Centrals.

In other coaching news, Marc Dransman will coach the Melton South reserves.

Travis Chapman will again assist Pritchard, while Dale Houghton will be a playing assistant coach.