A SLOW start cost Mininera and District a win in its first interleague appearance in 14 years on Saturday.
Mininera and District coach Mick Jennings commended his charges for their second-half fightback in the 15.10 (100) to 10.7 (67) loss to Golden Rivers at Lake Bolac.
But Jennings said its opening half was forgettable.
“They came out of the blocks firing,” he said of Golden Rivers.
“They came out like a team ready to play and it took us a while to find our feet.
“Our first half was disappointing. I think the team acknowledged that.
“We were lucky at quarter-time they’d only kicked 3.4 to our one solitary goal.
“They had heaps more inside 50s and controlled general play.
“We fumbled the ball and looked nervous.”
Jennings lamented Mininera and District’s lack of midfield pressure early.
He said its unaccountability allowed Golden Rivers to deliver well to Quambatook coach Paul Messer, who kicked seven of his nine goals in the first half.
Jennings said Mininera and District, which lost Hawkesdale-Macarthur ruckman Lachie Reichman to a calf injury, found its spark after the main break.
It trimmed a 41-point half-time deficit to 27 points at the final change.
“At half-time I said: ‘you are the elite players of the league and I know you can play good football’,” Jennings said. “We were in a winnable position at three-quarter-time. We were about three goals down.
“Everyone lifted and we had clean ball use, were winning our fair share of clearances and our tackle count went up.”
Tatyoon’s Damian Cameron and SMW Rovers’ John Forbes were among Mininera and District’s best.
“We wouldn’t have had the chance to win the game if it wasn’t for them,” Jennings said.
“They chopped off numerous attacks and cleaned up the loose balls. They probably had 45 touches between them at half-time.”
Jennings said Mininera and District would strive to improve its performance next year and was content with its decision to re-enter the country championships after a lengthy hiatus.
“We are rapt we are back in it,” he said.
“We knew it would be tough, being out for 14 years, and a learning curve.”
A small crowd watched the 33rd versus 34th ranked game.
“To be honest, the crowd was disappointing,” Jennings said.
“I am sure once word gets out that we are back in the fold and play rep footy, we’ll be supported.”
Jennings paid tribute to the Mininera and District executive for its help and Wickliffe-Lake Bolac for hosting its training sessions.