Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Lockdown hurts morale

- ~ Meg Saultry

At half-time of Mathoura’s round 16 Picola League game against Katandra on Saturday, word began to filter through the player group about an impending NSW COVID-19 lockdown.

With the whole of the state set to shutdown at 5pm, Timbercutt­ers coach Darcy Robinson admitted the news did affect the demeanour of the group.

‘‘It sort of became, ‘what are we playing for’ and ‘what’s going to happen’,’’ he said.

‘‘We spoke about (the fact) we still had a half to play, but with no crowd there, it’s such an un-footy-like feeling, when you’re just playing footy with no-one watching. ‘‘That’s not what country footy is about.’’ The Timbercutt­ers fell short in their final home-and-away game, with the Kats clawing their way to a 20-point victory.

Final score: Katandra 11.11 (77) to Mathoura 8.9 (57).

Though the resulting loss doesn’t take anything away from the Timbercutt­ers’ finals chance — they are locked in at seventh with an eliminatio­n final against Berrigan to come — it did hamper their momentum heading into the nitty-gritty part of the season.

‘‘We spoke about building and gaining momentum to get our footy flowing, and it just did not work,’’ Robinson said of Saturday’s game.

‘‘No matter how hard we tried, we were miles off the pace and the footy we want to produce.’’

A slow start from the Timbercutt­ers saw the Kats pounce with three opening quarter goals, though the the red and blue reined it back to a single major margin at half time.

A five-goal third quarter haul to the Kats saw them stretch the lead back to 12 ahead of the final quarter, where they again outscored the Timbercutt­ers two goals to one.

‘‘We couldn’t get the drive off our half backline which we really rely on, and again got stuck really wide; we didn’t attack through the corridor,’’ Robinson said.

‘‘It was a disappoint­ing result, especially going into finals footy.’’

Jake Ellery was again one of the best as he led scoring with three goals, while Joel Donehue was judged Mathoura’s best afield for his work around the contest.

‘‘I put it on Joel before the game, that it was time to stand up and lead from the front and that is what he did from the first bounce,’’ Robinson said.

‘‘He’s that bull in-and-under, winning the contested footy, and he’ll have to go again and produce what he did yesterday against Berrigan.’’

Though the NSW lockdown casts a shadow over the start of the final series next weekend, Robinson said his group would continue to prepare for their bout until told otherwise.

‘‘We’re a young group, which has matured over a couple years,” he said.

‘‘It’s another challenge, and it’s a good challenge in life, to keep preparing yourself for the unknown.’’

Mathoura and Berrigan met back in round 13 of the regular season, with the Saints victorious by 22 points.

But with the Timbercutt­ers yearning to make an impact this final series, Robinson said his side would channel everything into beating their rivals.

‘‘We got smashed around the clearances and contested footy by Berrigan,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s an area we need to address, and they’ve got a big ruckman we’ll put a bit of time into. We created opportunit­ies going forward, but didn’t convert, so we need to touch up on that too.’’

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