NORTH Warrnambool Eagles broke their Cobden curse in emphatic fashion with the biggest win by any side this season.
Despite three late withdrawals, the Eagles claimed the club’s first win at Cobden Recreation Reserve since joining the Hampden league in 1997 when they dished out a 110-point thumping.
The 25.14 (164) to 8.6 (54) result snapped the third-placed Eagles’ two-game losing streak, denting Cobden’s finals hopes as its percentage dropped by more than eight points.
Eagles coach Bernard Moloney said his side was dramatically reshaped in the hours leading up to the game with forward Jeremy Parkinson (hamstring tightness), midfielders Andy McMeel (hamstring tightness) and Jye Bidmade (virus) all withdrawals.
Moloney said the Eagles were conscious of ending the club’s dismal record at Cobden but the focus had been on teamwork.
“I’m just trying to get blokes to have some self-belief, if you do your job properly and you are there for each other,” Moloney said.
“It was more about the mental side of self-belief and trusting your mates. If you are there to help your mate, he will be there to help you. I thought we were good at those things.”
Moloney said the Eagles’ performance was in stark contrast to last week when they were beaten by ladder-leader Warrnambool. They had good outside run from late inclusion Jeremy Bidmade, wingmen Jarryd Lewis and Matthew Brophy; their forwards led up the ground more and their defenders, led by the returning Brendan Murfett, were rock-solid.
“It was the first complete team game we’ve played for the year,” Moloney said.
But he said it would count for little unless the Eagles continued their improvement against second-placed Koroit on Saturday.
“You don’t look down the mountain when you are climbing, you look up. Koroit are ahead of us, they are obviously playing well, it’s going to be a ripping game next week.”
He said much had been made of the Eagles’ lack of goals from tall players but they found a forward set-up that worked.
Benjamin Mugavin, who has been used in just about every position this season, was good at centre half-forward, Tom Batten played at full-forward and Michael Darmody was used as a lead-up option.
“I threw it out to Michael Darmody, you have to have more than a few marks a game, you have to work a lot harder and he cemented his spot for a week or two because he worked so hard when the ball didn’t come in well.”
Cobden coach Stephen Hammond was at a loss to explain his side’s performance.
“They were good, very good and we played like we did last week,” he said.
“We started all right, should have been closer at quarter-time.
“I was very happy when they brought in their tall players before the game because I thought we would be too fast for them but they used the ball better and spread really well.”
Hammond said the Bombers had the daunting prospect of facing ladder-leader Warrnambool on Saturday after the confidence-sapping result.
“We have to see what we can get back against the best side.”
The Bombers will be without running player Mick Salmon who suffered a hamstring injury. Defender Bart Phillips and ruckman Ashley Rohan are expected to return for the clash.