WARRNAMBOOL and District coach Ben van de Camp had high praise for his under 17½ footballers after their late fightback went unrewarded.
A goal from Colac and District’s Liam Loubey with just minutes remaining sealed the hosts an 8.16 (64) to 9.3 (57) win at Central Reserve, Colac.
Warrnambool and District had cut the margin to one after trailing by 24 points early in the last quarter, with onballer Sandon Williams particularly influential.
But the visitors, who lost the same match last year by 44 points, never took the lead and rued their slow start when Loubey found space 10 metres from goal.
The result was arguably justice for Colac and District, which dominated early but had only 2.10 and a two-point lead for its efforts at half-time.
But van de Camp said he was proud of how his players never gave up when the margin gradually increased and could have blown out.
“That says a lot about the group of boys,” he said.
“At three-quarter-time and after they kicked the first goal (of the last term) they could’ve rolled over and said ‘we’re done’ and let the game blow out.
“But they showed a lot of character by sticking to the contest and saying ‘we’re not going to roll over, let’s keep going’. That says a hell of a lot about the footballers.”
Laughlin Cowell earned best-afield honours for Warrnambool and District for his efforts, rotating with Jordan Lowery in the ruck.
Justin Fedley, Williams and Ben Rantall were also important, while Ben Saunders led the goalkicking with three.
Stewart McCann was Colac and District’s best, along with Toby Hawkins and Zac Day, while Morgan Fenton booted three goals.
“We started too late. The pressure was on early and we didn’t make the most of our opportunities then,” van de Camp said.
“As I said to the boys after the game, there was a step-up and they learnt to play above it, but probably not until halfway through the second quarter.”
Van de Camp said he would consider coaching the side again “if they don’t sack me”.
“It’s always good. The opportunity to coach these boys is brilliant. They’re great kids and it’s coaching at another level,” he said.
“They acquit themselves really well, take pride in it and it’s an honour for me to be able to do it.”