Punt Road Oval provided the stage for the North Ballarat Roosters worst fear on Sunday.
Following a horrendous off-season which saw a revolving door of board members, financial crisis and uncertainty around the players immediate future, the weekend should have provided a chance for the group to show the football world it belongs in the Victorian Football League – however, the result was an unforgivable 188-point loss to Richmond.
The lop-sided contest ended with the scoreboard reading 33.21 (219) – 4.7 (31) in a performance that highlighted stark differences between the two sides.
The off-field issues at North Ballarat are ongoing and there is no overnight fix, but the on-field must show some form of competitiveness if its VFL future is to keep its head above water.
Sunday’s debacle resembled two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum on many levels. Skill-level, system, physique and personnel – yet they will compete in the same competition in 2017.
The hope is that Sunday was rock bottom for the club and the insipid result, in time, will be looked upon as an outlier. However, the fear is that the 188-point drubbing is the reality of how the Roosters will stack up against many VFL sides this season.
Coach Marc Greig said he did not believe there was that big of a difference between the sides, all things being equal, leading him to the disappointing outcome that some of his players simply lacked effort.
“There’s not a 180-point gap between these two teams,” Greig said.
“I think there was (a lack of effort at times) from some mature boys. Definitely a lot of the younger guys got a real eye-opener...I didn’t come here thinking anything like that was going to happen, to be honest.”
Greig said Monday’s match review would be damning for some players, but would not be all doom and gloom. Ball movement off half-back was a positive, yet the execution forward of centre was well-below VFL-standard.
Greig said it was crucial that the players learnt as quickly as possible from the huge loss in order to respond in the coming weeks.
“I’ll just remind them that we’ve got 17 games to go.
“The mindset is a big thing. We just need the experienced guys to show some resilience and lead the young guys. You can’t expect the young blokes to do it all, they’ve got to learn it from the boys who have been around a while.
“Once we get to training tomorrow night, I’ll show some clips that some senior guys will be pretty embarrassed about. But I want to show them so they can learn straight away. I’m not going to say everything was no good, it’s about learning. Why did you make this decision? Why did you kick it there?”