TACKLING pressure was the key to Western Storm's historic Foxtel Cup win over West Adelaide on Tuesday says the coach who helped mastermind the victory.
Mitch Hills was yesterday a proud man after the new State League entity, playing just its fourth serious match, became the first Tasmanian team to win a game in the knockout competition involving the best club sides in the country.
In front of a national TV audience, the Storm applied 83 tackles, well up from its goal of 40 as it led at every change and survived a late comeback from the Bloods before winning 9.7 (61) to 8.9 (57).
``The tackling pressure that we had was outstanding,'' Hills said yesterday.
``We lost to Launceston a couple of weeks ago, and I thought our defence was really poor, but ever since then I've been drumming it into the boys about defending first and working on our defensive work rate to make it a priority.
``We were able to do that against Lauderdale, and I thought going in if we were able to transfer that onto a bigger ground against a better opposition, we'd be OK.''
The Storm's hard-at-it approach, complemented by a ``slingshot'' game plan of pushing its forwards up the ground and running back towards goals was personified by the likes of Matt Hanson (15 possessions with 12 contested), Thane Bardenhagen (13 possessions, eight contested), Jay Blackberry (11 possessions, nine contested), Zane Brown (10 possessions, nine contested) and Hills (10 possessions, nine contested).
While both Hills and his skipper Blackberry admitted they were surprised that West Adelaide rested many of its best players, such as Travis Tuck, that could not take away the pride of what the club had achieved, which Hills said was a ``big step forward for Tassie footy, for our club and my playing group''.
``We had no expectation about winning, it was just about going over and working to our structures to the best of our ability,'' Blackberry added.
``I did expect some of the younger guys to go into their shell a little bit, but we did have plenty of time in the day to process it all and they took it upon themselves to have a real crack at it.
``One of the focuses was to take the opportunity, as you might not get another chance at this level, and they did.''
The AFL yesterday confirmed it was a possibility Aurora Stadium could host the Storm's semi-final between the winner of either Box Hill or West Perth on June 24, but that decision is yet to be finalised.
The Storm now has just four days between matches, with a Saturday night encounter with North Launceston next on its agenda.
WESTERN STORM 4.2 7.4 9.6 9.7 (61)
WEST ADELAIDE 2.1 4.4 7.4 8.9 (57)
Western Storm: Collis 2, McCulloch 2, Brown, Thomas, McGee, Russell, Barker.
West Adelaide: Hopton 2, Watchman 2, Dijksman, Schott, De Zylva.
Western Storm: Hanson, Hills, Blackberry, Reinmuth, McCulloch.
West Adelaide: De Zylva, Jennings, Dijksman, Nelson.