WILLIAMSTOWN had to regain its ferocity to beat the Coburg Tigers by 59 points in the VFL on a Sunday made special by the return of competitive football to Whitten Oval.
The Seagulls have been in good form after a slow start and are in the top four, but recent hiccups against Port Melbourne in the grand final rematch and South Adelaide in the Foxtel Cup revealed some players are standoffish when the hard ball is there to be won.
Seagulls assistant coach Andrew Mirams told the Weekly it was important for his side to recapture its hard-nosed approach and hunger around the packs.
"We challenged the boys. In the last couple of weeks their efforts haven't been strong enough.
"There were a few areas like the contested ball and stoppages where we just had to get on top."
It took both the young and the experienced to set the tone in an opening term the Seagulls dominated.
Captain Ben Jolley was at the coalface, Jamie McNamara followed suit and rookie Lin Jong showed you don't need years of experience to throw your body into the line of fire.
The Tigers were taken aback by the hardness of the Seagulls, who led by 38 points at quarter-time.
Mirams said it was a crossroads game for his club. It was also a further sign of improvement for the young and developing team.
"It was a really important game to try and get us in the top four versus being left in the ruck as such," he said.
"We'll continue to get better as the side jells better and we get to play more footy and the Bulldogs' first-year boys get to understand the requirements of senior football.
"The [North] Ballarat game and the Werribee and Sandringham games were really pleasing results. They pointed to our improvement."
Young goalsneak Anthony Anastasio had a breakout game for the Seagulls.
The former Sandringham Dragons under-age star was hard to catch enroute to five goals.
"He's got real leg speed and knows where the goals are," Mirams said.
James Wall and Tom Hill were important to the Seagulls' set-up. The pair had an unenviable task in the ruck against a Tigers line-up boasting four players over 200cm.
"They're not true first rucks, but they have played in that position before," Mirams said. "All we asked of them is that they compete, and they did that."
The VFL takes a break this weekend for Victoria's state game against Tasmania. The Seagulls have four players – Jolley, McNamara, Brett Goodes and Steven Witkowski – in the running for a place in the team