North Warrnambool Eagles’ interchange bench resembled a hospital emergency ward at quarter-time as three midfielders sat on the pine nursing injuries.
Kory Howlett (knee), Xavier Mills (concussion) and Tom James (knee) were the three patients on the Eagles’ bench in a tough day for Graeme Twaddle’s side at Bushfield, where South Warrnambool ran away in the second quarter to secure a 24.13 (157) to 9.11 (65) victory.
The Eagles’ bad luck started even before the first bounce with Dylan Parish (adductor) a late withdrawal.
Twaddle said the extent of the injuries to Howlett and James would be confirmed after the pair got medical advice.
The fourth-year coach is hoping Parish would only be out for this week and he believes Jarryd Lewis and Sam Doukas weren’t far away from returning
Twaddle said he was still able to take some positives despite the rising injury list and the heavy loss.
“We take confidence knowing we matched one of the better sides in the competition in the first quarter and that we were able to fight back in the final term,” he said. “They’re a quality team and have one of the best midfields running around in the competition and our two best players were Joe McKinnon and Sam James, who are in their first year out of the under 18.5 system.
“We take some pride in that and we have a young developing side that are starting to stand up.”
Roosters mentor Mat Buck said he was pleased with forward Sam Kelly and his side’s ability to share the goal-kicking load.
"Sam Kelly really stepped up for us and played a great role at centre-half forward, he is coming back from a knee reconstruction, and to do that this early in the piece is a really good sign for him,” Buck said.
“We have plenty of contributors when it comes to goal kicking, but when our midfielders hit the scoreboard it makes it a lot easier for us.
“They work really hard and we speak a lot about their work rate and the goals are reward for that effort.”
Buck said his side was starting to iron out the final kinks in its game plan.
“We’ve managed to tinker things and we feel we are starting to find what is best for us,” he said.
“We want to be a really good defensive side and we have a few key areas we look to do that in and if we can manage to do that we find that we can win the ball back and when we do we think we are a good kicking side.”
We have plenty of contributors when it comes to goal kicking, but when our midfielders hit the scoreboard it makes it a lot easier for us.South Warrnambool coach Mat Buck