SOUTH Rovers coach Brendan Whelan believes the Lions’ breakthrough victory will lay the foundation for further success this season.
Rovers started poorly but kicked 11 goals to four during the middle two terms to beat Timboon Demons 15.11 (101) to 9.8 (62) at Walter Oval.
Nathan Krepp and best-afield Liam Sheppard finished with three goals each while Braden Hotker was also prolific for a third consecutive week.
Whelan said Rovers’ win, which followed defeats to Kolora-Noorat and Merrivale, meant his players could play with more freedom in coming weeks.
“While we didn’t play pretty footy at times, we went into the game with a fair bit of pressure on ourselves to get the first win,” he said.
“Now we have got it we can go back to trying to play footy without that pressure.
“We’ve had a couple of really tough weeks on the track, we’ve been pretty brutal and really stepped things up.
“The message was definitely clear, we needed to win.
“The pressure was there but the monkey is off the back.”
Whelan lauded the work of Sheppard, who started in defence before moving forward and finishing the game in midfield, and Hotker.
He was also impressed with recruit Stuart McAlpine, who kicked two goals and looms as one of the finds of the season for the club.
But the win wasn’t without its challenges — something which could become a recurring theme for Rovers this season.
Timboon Demons led by 14 points at quarter-time and were still within striking distance at the long break, thanks to Tom Hunt (five goals) up forward.
Hunt earned best-player honours for his side, along with Neil Gowland (two goals), Andrew Blake and teenager Dylan Smith.
“Definitely in patches we looked good,” Whelan said.
“But we’ve got to be able to put that together all the time under pressure against good sides and when we play a lower side.
“We need to be more consistent. I think we’re going to be a dangerous side, a side teams can’t underestimate.
“We’ve got to recognise every game this year is going to be hard for us, we’re going to have to work really hard for wins.”
In other matches, Merrivale heaped pain on an under-strength Russells Creek outfit with a commanding 245-point victory at Mack Oval.
The Tigers’ 37.28 (250) to 0.5 (5) win is likely to reignite debate about the sustainability of Warrnambool having 11 clubs within its city boundaries.
Jet Dowie and Josh Guiney kicked seven goals each while Brad Kelly, James Fary, Rhys Raymond and James Kelly finished with four each.
Sam Gleeson, Al Porter and Guiney were their best. Recruit Ben O’Rourke led the way for Russells Creek on an otherwise forgettable day.
Kolora-Noorat returned to the winners’ list with a comfortable 18.14 (122) to 7.7 (49) win against East Warrnambool at Reid Oval.
The Power set up the win with an 11 goals to three first half. Luke Kenna (four goals) and Luke Tebble (three) led the goalkicking.
Stephen O’Connor was best-afield and had good support from Tom Kenna and O’Sullivan brothers Joe and George.
Peter Shepherd booted four goals to lead the Bombers’ goalkicking and was among their best along with Blake Rudland-Castles and Jonathon Malone.