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Back in the Black

"I’ve been working a lot on my marking at training, so it was good to see the effort paying off."

Over the last few weeks, Aaron Black’s form has been steadily improving. At Box Hill on Saturday, he turned in another good game, kicking three goals and threatening all afternoon.

In a game of topsy-turvy conditions, the key-forward was pleased with his performance.

“I thought my first half in particular was good,” Black told NMFC.com.au.

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“The rain managed to hold off (in the first half) so it was dry.

“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working a lot on my marking at training, so it was good to see the effort paying off. ”

Black took nine marks on Saturday, the majority coming in a second quarter purple patch in which he kicked three consecutive goals.

But while the players were in the rooms at half-time, the weather snap finally arrived, completely changing the dynamic of the game.

“For a key-forward in those conditions it’s about getting the ball to ground, out of bounds and then resetting from there. I thought I managed to compete well.”

While Black’s individual role didn’t change too much in the rain, the work of his teammates further up the ground did. The 24-year-old explained the shift in the second half.

“As a team it’s more about gaining territory by just getting the footy forward,” he said.

“You’re not looking for the switch as much in the wet weather. We sat Preussy (rookie Braydon Preuss) and myself down the line a lot more so we had a target at all times.

“Then the smaller blokes could go to work at ground level because you’re not going to mark too many in the conditions.”

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Much like their AFL equivalent, the Box Hill Hawks are extremely adept at moving the ball in transition. It makes the role of the key-forward just as important when he doesn’t have possession, working towards slowing the ball movement of the opposition.

It goes hand-in-hand with one of Black’s focus areas - a barometer of his game.

“When I’m playing my best footy it’s when I get right up the ground to help defend and then really work hard back towards goal,” he said.

“It’s no coincidence this year that when I’ve been working hard like that I’ll end up getting on the end of a few of them.”

The Roosters had another highly regarded forward join the side at Box Hill City Oval. In a rare appearance, Lindsay Thomas played his first game at VFL level since 2012.

While the left-footer only kicked 1.3, he could have easily ended with a bag of four or five. His presence was a welcome sight for Black, considering the Roosters’ struggle to score goals in recent weeks.

“Having Lindsay back there gave us an extra voice, more structure and we worked pretty well as a forward line group,” he added.

“For Lindsay it might have been a bit of a strange place – he doesn’t come here very often – but he fitted in really well.

“He brought his leadership and experience with him. In the final quarter when a few of the guys were getting flustered, he was getting everyone set up.

“He was able to give blokes confidence just by being out there, standing a bit taller and you always know if you do drop a mark, he’ll be right there on the bottom of it.”