NORTH Ballarat Rebels’ eight-match winning streak has been ended by a powerful Eastern Ranges outfit.
Ranges laid waste to the Rebels hopes of maintaining third spot on the TAC Cup ladder with a 13.10 (88) to 7.7 (49) round 14 win at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday.
A second-half blowout, led by Eastern’s top-10 draft hopeful Christian Petracca, left Rebels coach David Loader wanting answers as his team enters the development weekend bye.
Loader described Petracca’s five-goal, 30-plus disposal match-winning game as “as good a performance as I’ve seen in a long, long time”.
“He absolutely destroyed us and he nearly won it off his own boot,” he said.
“We identifi ed him before the game (but) we couldn’t fi nd anyone to match up on him and it gave our midfielders a chance to see what a really, really good player can do.
“I would have thought he’d nearly be a top-five (draft) chance after this week.”
Rebels held a slight advantage over the home side in the early stages of the match, entering the quarter and half-time breaks with single-point leads before fatigue and injury took its toll.
Calf injuries to Sam Bennett and Tom Ludeman before and after half-time were compounded by lower leg troubles to Jacob O’Beirne and Jacob Wheelahan, as well as a corked thigh to key position player James Richards.
Ranges took a 55-42 lead into the final break and kicked five goals to one in the final term to put the match away.
“We ended up with four or five guys who couldn’t get on the ground,” Loader said.
“It’s a massive learning curve when you’re getting beaten in games like that.
“We didn’t really play the style of football that we played in the last six to eight weeks and we lowered our standards – they got us and full credit goes to Ranges.”
However, Rebels coaches were pleased with the performances of big men Oscar McDonald and Rowan Marshall.
McDonald was Ballarat’s best, picking up more than 20 possessions in a key defensive role, while Marshall was influential in the ruck contests for much of the game.
Loader said the focus would be on winning the stoppages and a return to team-oriented football in the week off, before the Rebels return to action against Queensland in round 15 on July 27.