PORTLAND is bracing for life without one of its reliable midfield generals as its hard luck on the injury front stacks up.
The fourth-placed Tigers lost Daniel Falcone to a suspected broken tibia and dislocated ankle in Saturday's 5.15 (45) to 7.19 (61) defeat to North Warrnambool Eagles at Hanlon Park.
Falcone was the club's third major casualty of the season after Aaron Shepherd (cheekbone) and Tex Mitchell (knee) went down earlier in the campaign.
Tigers coach Jarrod Holt said Falcone had been "a pillar" through tough times on field.
"I think that's the talk, surgery, so it's not great," Holt said.
"Falcs is a quiet lad but he'd do anything for the team. Over the last six or seven years when the team hasn't been at it's best, he's been a bit of a pillar there through the midfield.
He's been a bit of a pillar there through the midfield.Jarrod Holt on Daniel Falcone
"He's always doing his bit for the team. He's a big loss for us."
Holt said he knew the injury was serious immediately and said the club would rally around the hard-nosed midfielder. "It happened in front of us and we could hear he was in some pain. I've known him for a long time and I've never heard him whinge or carry on," he said.
"If you ask him how he is, he's always fine, he's always all right. He never complains about anything, so we knew it was bad.
"Everyone deals with (injuries) and I was the same when Falcs went down - thinking 'you're kidding me, we don't need that'."
Portland led by nine points at half time in a low-scoring affair but North Warrnambool Eagles shot out of the blocks after the main break.
The Eagles had a mammoth 10 scoring shots in the third term as Adam Dowie's men worked their way into the contest.
Dowie said Portland played its ground superbly in the first half but his side was able to reap the benefits of adjustments at half time.
"In offence, they really ran hard and spread over the ground. They looked dangerous and pretty slick," he said.
"We were probably pretty reactive and they just pressured us quite well.
"If you look at the scoring shots, you'll see there was some pretty ordinary kicking and they probably be ruing their poor kicking but we did a bit as well. Both sides kicking was pretty ordinary."
Dowie said tactical tweaks at half time meant his side strengthened its defensive position.
"I think Portland only kicked one goal after half time," he said.
"I think we got on top of our clearances and played the game in our forward half. We had a much better setup around the ball and behind the ball." Portland will play South Warrnambool on Saturday while North will meet Hamilton Kangaroos.
Portland 2.4 (16), 3.9 (27) 4.13 (37), 5.15 (45)
North Warrnambool Eagles 1.2 (8), 2.6 (18), 5.13 (43) 7.19 (61)
Goals: C. Peters, T. Jennings, T. Watts, T. Sharp, K. Richardson
Best: T. Jennings, P. Proctor, D. Jackson, J. Jenner, C. Peters, J. Walker
North Warrnambool Eagles:
Goals: D. Johnstone 3, J. Lewis 2, N. Timms, J. Greene
Best: D. Johnstone, C. Grundy, J. Bermingham, B. Mugavin, T. James, J. Dillon
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