SOUTH Rovers honoured the memory of Warrnambool community champion Carolyn Claridge with a crushing defeat of East Warrnambool.
Claridge, the mother of club captain Julian Claridge, died on May 11 after devoting her years to nursing and community work in the region.
The Lions celebrated her life in the best way possible, outclassing a disappointing Bombers side to win 25.18 (168) to 9.5 (59) at Walter Oval.
They were emphatic in the first half, leading 15.9 to 1.1 at the long break, but went missing in the third term before finishing strongly.
South Rovers coach Brendan Whelan said he was proud of his players for producing a display fitting of the occasion.
“We were on a mission, we were playing for the Claridge family today and wanted to make a special effort,” he said.
“Each week you try your hardest but you have things like that which drive you and the boys were fantastic.”
Whelan said South Rovers’ first half was their best for the year. Overall they had 62 inside-50s, taking 23 marks in attack.
But he was at a loss to explain how East Warrnambool managed 5.3 to 2.4 in the third term, the only period the hosts weren’t dominant.
The Bombers entered their 50 on 17 occasions in that time, taking six marks — figures which eclipsed their entire output before the break.
“We were beaten all over the ground convincingly (in the third quarter), you don’t ignore that,” Whelan said.
“It’s something that, having a young group, we’ve got to keep improving on and it’s something we’ve got to get out of our game.
“The third quarter was how we’ve been playing the first quarter.
“It was great to get a good start but disappointing we didn’t get an even four-quarter performance.”
Daniel Clifford led the scoring with a season-high six goals and was deservedly among the best players.
Several of his marks came off the boot of best-on-ground Braden Hotker. The onballer was at the heart of almost everything South Rovers did well.
But they were just two winners for the hosts. Matt McMillan was prominent early, as was Jess McCosker who set the match alight with his dash on a wing.
Teenagers Laughlin Cowell and Tom Hirst (three goals), Adam Payne, Tom Bowmen and Dominic Bushell all had their moments as well.
East Warrnambool had few standouts in a match it genuinely had hope of winning, although the third-term effort showed the Bombers’ potential.
Defender Simon Tindall was their best running out of defence while ruckman Jordan Collins worked tirelessly against bigger-bodied opponents.
Onballers Ash Sumner, a catalyst after half-time while Chris Edwards and Blake Rudland-Castles also found plenty of the ball.
Peter Shepherd and Ben Gray kicked five goals between them and also worked hard, but the contributors dropped away sharply after that. East Warrnambool coach Paul Butters said the third-term effort ensured his side took a positive from an otherwise disappointing day.
“The intensity wasn’t there. We had a focus on the start, we wanted to start well and we didn’t execute it,” he said.
“In the rooms before the game felt good. But we’re getting a tendency to go back into our shells.”
Butters said he would take the good and the bad from the match back to his players at training during the week.
“You look at both, why you were so bad in the first half, what were some of the things that went wrong,” he said.
“Then you look at the good things you did. You’ve got to work with the positives just as much as the negatives.”