SOUTH Warrnambool gave credence to the philosophy “you learn more from your losses” when it scored a three-goal win against Portland on Saturday.
The Roosters were thumped by 41 goals in a showdown for the top spot eight days earlier against powerhouse Koroit but their young line-up erased some of those memories with a calm performance against fellow finals aspirant Portland.
The 36-33 triumph not only restored South’s confidence but it dealt the Tigers their second consecutive defeat. The Tigers, which started the season with hopes of a top-two finish, have one win and a draw from the first four games, forcing coach Kerri Jennings back to the drawing board.
Roosters coach Leah Kermeen said the loss to Koroit had helped sharpen her side’s focus.
“I think we were brought back to reality against Koroit,” she said.
“We knew going into Portland it would be a more physical battle in terms they are older players and bigger bodies and we are so young.”
She said the win against Portland would be significant.
“It allows us to know where we are at in terms of the rest of the competition. We knew Koroit and North Warrnambool Eagles would be the powerhouses and rest of the competition would be so even.
“It’s crucial to get a win against Portland and next week against Port Fairy it’s another crucial game.”
She said her developing team would take considerable confidence into the clash against Port Fairy.
“Our youngsters’ ability to focus on the task was amazing. The way they played was so beyond their years and to bounce back from a thrashing against Koroit, against older players, was great.”
The Roosters went into the match without wing defence Sarah Jacobs, who has a heel problem, but replacement Hannah Oates was good, Kermeen said.
While the playing coach found it difficult to single out good contributors such was the team effort, Kermeen said teenage goal shooter Nell Mitchell had been strong against more experienced defenders and Ruby Wilson at wing attack was dynamic with her drives.
The Roosters were down by a goal at quarter-time but turned a goal in front at half-time. In a critical third term, the Roosters opened a five-goal buffer and with five minutes remaining in the match led by eight.
Kermeen said the only negative was her side “dropped off” in the closing minutes as Portland score the last five goals of the match.
Portland coach Kerri Jennings is searching for solutions to her side’s below par start to the season.
“We needed to win,” she said.
“Last week we needed to win and we didn’t and the week before was a draw. It’s kind of really frustrating. It’s back to the drawing board.”
Part of Jennings’ frustration is her side’s inability to capitalise.
“We had 67 shots and we made 33 goals,” she said.
The first quarter told the story. Portland had 21 attempts but made just eight goals; South Warrnambool had 14 attempts and made seven. Jennings started with Laura Tagell as shooter but replaced her with teenager Tayla Falconer at half-time. She also swung experienced player Donna Fearon-Ciugureanu from centre to defence.
Jennings conceded the move in the midcourt might have been a mistake but she said the Tigers lacked cohesion.
Portland hosts perennial finalist Camperdown on Saturday.