CLOSE, BUT NO CIGARS FEL­LAS

Rochester’s Elliott Taylor is tack­led by Be­nalla duo Jor­dan Wolff and Sam Martyn in the Goul­burn Val­ley League match on Satur­day.

Campaspe News - - SPORT - By ANDREW JOHN­STON

OH, SO close.

Kyabram aside, there aren’t many chal­lenges in GVL football big­ger than Be­nalla right now.

And our Tigers al­most knocked them off.

In the con­test from the open­ing bounce — in­clud­ing lead­ing at the first two changes — the Rochester Tigers fell to the Saints by just eight points on Satur­day.

The usual sus­pects up for­ward — Steven Stroobants and Rhys Free — com­bined for five goals. But it just wasn’t quite enough. And as is the case in a tight loss, the Tigers are left to ru­mi­nate over the op­por­tu­ni­ties let slip.

On this oc­ca­sion, those missed op­por­tu­ni­ties were as clear as day.

The Saints put through 10.6 on the day, and were rea­son­ably ac­cu­rate.

But the Tigers booted 10 be­hinds, ar­guably kick­ing them­selves out of the game.

Coach James Fla­herty said his side would rue the missed chances.

‘‘It’s a very dis­ap­point­ing place to be in,’’ he said.

‘‘Against really good qual­ity sides like Be­nalla, if you don’t put them away and you leave them with a few chances and op­por­tu­ni­ties to get back into the game, they will get on top of you.

‘‘It was a bit like the Euroa game in a way. We did have the op­por­tu­ni­ties to get the vic­tory. But we didn’t use the ball as well as we could have, par­tic­u­larly in the fi­nal quar­ter, and that really came back to hurt us late.’’

What is most dis­ap­point­ing for the Tigers is the re­sults are com­ing as a re­sult of small is­sues.

‘‘We really haven’t been play­ing badly,’’ Fla­herty said.

‘‘The way that we play has been really good, the game plan is work­ing. We are, un­for­tu­nately, let­ting our­selves down with some very minor mis­takes like the way that we han­dle the ball.

‘‘These are also things that are really easy to fix. It’s some­thing that we will con­tinue to work on across the next few weeks as we look to con­tinue our im­prove­ment.’’

But hope is by no means gone — not even close.

The Tigers sit in eighth spot on the lad­der with a 4-5 record, and this week take on sixth place Echuca.

A win would make a huge dif­fer­ence to the sides sea­son.

And Fla­herty ad­mits it would mean even more against their lo­cal ri­vals.

‘‘We are really look­ing for that win,’’ he said.

‘‘In many ways it doesn’t mat­ter to us who we are com­ing up against. Our focus is win­ning games of football and that is what we will be look­ing for this week.

‘‘But at the same time, there is some­thing spe­cial about play­ing Echuca. They’re close to us, so there is a strong ri­valry be­tween the two clubs, and it would be spe­cial to get the win.’’

Pho­tos:Bruce Povey.

Rochester coach James Fla­herty grabs Be­nalla’s Nick Warnock.

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