Ecstasy, followed by exasperation …
South Warrnambool coach Leah Kermeen admitted to being deflated despite her side’s impressive four-goal win over a resurgent Terang Mortlake on Saturday.
The fourth-placed Roosters fought back from half and three-quarter-time deficits to claim a 45-41 triumph they hoped would seal a finals berth.
“After the game I was like ‘yes, great, now we are in finals’,” Kermeen said. “Then I went ‘no we’re not’.”
Her sudden change in outlook came after hearing sixth-placed Camperdown had produced one of the upsets of the season by defeating third-placed Hamilton Kangaroos to reignite their finals quest.
“If they had lost we would have been 10 points clear of them … it was a bit deflating,” Kermeen said.
But the Roosters are still two points clear of fifth-placed Portland and six ahead of Camperdown.
They now face Camperdown in a crunch game on Saturday, followed by a tough game against defending premier North Warrnambool Eagles in round 18.
“Our finals start next week,” Kermeen said. “If we win next week we are in. If we lose, we have to hope like hell Terang Mortlake beats Camperdown in the last round.”
Should the Roosters play finals they will be well equipped, having played a series of high-pressure, high-stakes matches in recent weeks, including a three-goal loss to Portland and two-goal loss to the Kangaroos.
Kermeen was delighted her side had finished the stronger on Saturday after trailing by three at half-time and one at three-quarter-time.
“I said to the girls at three-quarter-time it could be season-defining and that a loss would make it very hard to make finals,” she said.
“We’ve had very good team bonding sessions on Monday nights and we drew on that.”
She said young defender Gen O’Connor grabbed a decisive rebound late in the match after the Bloods made two unsuccessful shots at goal, followed by quick transition that led to goal shooter Nell Mitchell driving hard along the base line to receive a bullet-like pass from midcourter Ruby Wilson.
Mitchell made the difficult shot in what was essentially a two-goal swing.
On ladder positions the Roosters were hot favourites against the eighth-placed Terang Mortlake.
But the Bloods entered the match with three wins from their past four matches.
Terang Mortlake coach Aimee Arundell said the Bloods improved markedly on their early season showing against the Roosters.
“I was really, really happy with how we went yesterday, especially after last time we played them,” she said.
“We didn’t have Jess O’Connor last time we played them and she made a big difference on Nell Mitchell.
“We didn’t match up well height-wise last time.”
Arundell said turnovers in the dying stages cost the Bloods, who face Koroit and Camperdown in their final two games.
She expects goaler Britt Hyland, who was unavailable on Saturday, to line-up against the Saints.
“It will be good to have a bit of height in goals against Koroit,” Arundell said.
Arundell said she was impressed with the Bloods’ second half of the season after “a pretty disappointing first half”.
Goal duo Jo Couch and Sharni Moloney, wing defence Remeny McCann and O’Connor were the Bloods’ best against the Roosters.