FRANKSTON Dolphins coach Simon Goosey liked what he saw but knows his team has a long way to go after a thrilling one-point VFL practice match win over Coburg at Frankston Oval on Saturday.
While the Dolphins were missing plenty of talent such as Lachie Delahunty, Scott Simpson, Daniel Farmer, Nick Boland and Jackson Coleman, the commitment of the players who took the field cannot be questioned.
The Tigers hit the front late in the last quarter but former Mt Eliza teammates Michael Lourey and Sam Lloyd combined to score a late goal and give the Dolphins a 12.7 (79) to 12.6 (78) victory.
"We have a long way to go but we played good in patches," Goosey said. "The first part in particular was very good. Our pressure was really good but I thought our work rate dropped off in the second half."
Several debutants impressed for the Dolphins including former Dandenong Stingrays Billy Rolfe, Jason Pongracic and Ryan Morrison.
But it was Russell Gabriel who showed he had lost nothing during his stint in the WAFL and put in a typically hard-working performance.
The ruck, which was a weakness for the Dolphins last season, is now shaping as a strength with Gabriel slotting into the No. 1 position he vacated at the end of the 2011 season.
He got solid support from Khan Haretuku. The ruck division will be strengthened even further when former Geelong rookie Simpson recovers from an ankle injury.
"We had about 14 new players and although it wasn't great to let them come back I suppose the one thing we've been mindful of is preparing ourselves for round 1 against Casey Scorpions, so the boys haven't freshened up," Goosey said.
The one-two punch of Lourey and Lloyd were impressive with the pair set to take some pressure off Haretuku in attack.
"Today we probably had more marks in our forward 50 than in a whole game last season," Goosey said. "You know that we'll get better when the boys get some continuity from playing together."
Others to impress for the Dolphins were Narre Warren premiership player Adam Giobbi with his run and long kicking and Seaford recruit Chris Irving, who was given plenty of time through the midfield.
Riley Heddles was also superb for the Dolphins after overcoming injury woes that ruined his previous season.
The Dolphins development team had an easy 70-point demolition of the Coburg equivalent. Sam Fox and Jimmy Jennings were both impressive.
Former Dolphins captain Paul Kennedy also made it through half the game unscathed.
Frankston Dolphins clash with Port Melbourne at Frankston Oval from 2pm Saturday. The development league match begins at 11am.