South Rovers coach Adam Matheson is confident the tide has turned for his side, conceding the past few rounds have tested the resolve and resilience of his group.
Mass player unavailability has been at the forefront of local football and netball clubs all season in the Warrnambool and District league, and for the seventh-placed Lions, it's been a whirlwind block of games culminating in two 100-plus losses to Panmure and Nirranda and a further defeat to the hands of Kolora-Noorat.
"We've had some tough weeks coming up against three of the top teams, but it was the perfect storm against Nirranda," he said.
"We really felt the full impacts of COVID, illness, injuries and unavailability, it was a tough week.
"It's a week to week proposition in terms of player availability."
But through all of the challenges, Matheson said he was proud of the Lions' never give in attitude.
"All you can ask for is effort, the scoreboard probably doesn't reflect it but we have provided effort every week regardless of the 21 playing," he said.
"We've steadily improved, our effort outside 10 minutes of football (against the Power) was great and that's all you can ask.
"We took some big steps. As a coach that's all I can ask. Call it resilience, persistence, whatever, we've got to be flexible with positions on the ground."
After being unable to fill a reserves team against Panmure due to the sheer volume of players either injured or ill, the Lions are slowly hoping to bring back the troops in the next few weeks.
"Last week we filled a reserves team, and this week we'll probably have players miss out on a game so it can turn around really quickly in this climate and I'm sure other clubs are in the same boat," Matheson said.
One of those potential ins could be star spearhead Tim Ryan, who has kicked 22 goals from his four games, as well as a swag of important senior members of the team who have been sorely missed in the past few matches.
"He (Tim) missed the Nirranda game through illness and then his partner had a baby on Friday so hopefully we get him back this week but that'll depend on how his young family is going," he said.
"We'll wait and see on that one. We've got some soft tissue injuries, some of them for the first time so although they might be available we're not sure what game they'll play in.
"We should get (vice-captain) Dylan Cox back, and hopefully we get Luke Payne, Tim Rhook, Sam Hodgins, those are a few we hope to get back but we need to make sure they're 100 per cent fit."
The Lions hit the track on Tuesday night with plenty of enthusiasm and with strong numbers, looking to reverse their form in what looms as a vital game of football against Allansford on Saturday.
"It's a big game, as they all are - we know we need to win to keep in touch but Allansford are probably saying the same thing," Matheson said.
"Both teams will crack in to get a win. It is important to get back on the winners' list."
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