WARRNAMBOOL is battling selection headaches as two mainstays push their case for a senior return.
Austin Steere and Thomas Ludeman are likely to return for the Blues' clash with North Warrnambool Eagles this week despite one of the club's most complete performances of the campaign against Hamilton Kangaroos on Saturday.
The traditional powerhouse has battled inconsistency in 2021 - several key injuries have played a part - and is facing an uphill battle to play finals football.
The sixth-placed Blues are still mathematically a chance but need fifth-placed Portland to lose the final three games of the season to snatch a top-five spot.
It was a day where we had blokes that played pretty well who actually missed out on getting in the bests and it was hard to pick the five.Ben Parkinson
Blues mentor Ben Parkinson said tough calls would be made at the selection table. He said the players who would make way would be "really stiff".
He said his side's 8.9 (57) to 4.6 (30) away triumph had its "most even spread of contributors in a long time".
"It was a day where we had blokes that played pretty well who actually missed out on getting in the bests and it was hard to pick the five," Parkinson said.
"Too many games this year we've not had that option. We've often had four better players and the rest just haven't contributed enough.
"Whereas (Saturday) was a really solid effort across the group in really trying conditions. We were able to set ourselves up in the second quarter. We had our opportunities in the first quarter, but we missed a couple of easy set shots.
"To have a 25-point lead at half-time, we probably thought that was a good position and we were able to extend that a bit in the third and it might've been that they kicked one and we didn't in the last quarter."
Parkinson said forward Luke Cody was deployed across half-back and was a standout performer.
He said the livewire would likely start in the position again next week in a bid to clean up the Blues' ball-use going forward.
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"He's a beautiful kick. We've been struggling a bit off half-back and while it was still a heavy ball and a bit of slip and slide he was able to get a few handball receives and give us some penetration with his kicking," Parkinson said.
"You'd think that's where he'll start next week."
Hamilton Kangaroos mentor Gerard FitzGerald said his men turned the tide statistically in the final term. He said his men would take winning the final term as a positive on their journey of improvement.
FitzGerald said the Kangaroos won the inside 50 count convincingly - 16 to five - as well as stoppages (13 to four) and netted 21 tackles, seven more than their goal of 14.
"I keep saying to my blokes as we continue to grow as a footy club we'll have these mini wins along the way," he said.
"That'll help lead us towards what I believe will be sustainable success."
FitzGerald said forward Darcy Russell (ankle), Jack Hickey (cork) and Rory Gill (concussion precaution) all couldn't finish the game while Warrnambool escaped unscathed.
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