SUDDENLY, North Ballarat Roosters stagnated.
Players emphatically agreed when their coach called for intensity in the three-quarter-time huddle, but their nine-point lead at the final break quickly morphed into a 19-point loss at Eureka Stadium yesterday.
The Selkirk Roosters did not score in the final quarter against Victorian Football League top-four contender Williamstown.
They looked flat, defeated, before the Seagulls even really took full control.
Intensity was lost.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said his team showed it was close in measuring up against a top-four team – only 19 points short – but the Roosters were not quite there yet.
“This was one of those ones where we didn’t capitalise on momentum, we made errors and gave Willy a look-in,” FitzGerald said.
“In the last quarter, inside (forward) 50s went Willy’s way. They totally outplayed us.
“...We will learn from this and the key to this is how we respond.”
At three-quarter-time, the Roosters had control and looked the better team.
A Liam Jones goal almost six minutes into play gave the Seagulls spark but it was not until mid-way through the quarter they booted a major to snatch the lead.
It was enough to make the Seagulls swarm.
Two more Seagull goals within five minutes buried the Roosters.
Their pressure in the backlines foiled each Rooster foray near the goal face.
The Seagulls, whose play had been messy early, were playing smarter in rough, windy conditions.
They looked hungrier, like they wanted it more.
FitzGerald said sometimes the fitness of AFL players proved superior – the Seagulls sported about 11 Western Bulldogs AFL-listed players to the Roosters’ five from North Melbourne – and the Seagulls’ pace prevailed in the final term.
They kept their top-four status and left the Roosters to work in a massively close battle for eighth. Again.
Neither coach was pleased with how his team entered battle – FitzGerald was quick to pull his team into a huddle at quarter-time, while Seagull general Peter German unleashed a stirring, trademark spray.
The Roosters, led by midfielder Liam Anthony, turned it about the next two quarters.
Backlines were working and the midfield, despite the dominance of Seagulls ruckman Cam Wood, was effective with Myles Sewell and Steve Clifton tenacious in tackles and earning plenty of the ball.
Uncharacteristically, where the Roosters dropped their game was in free kicks against and 50-metre penalties.
FitzGerald was quick to pull his team behind closed doors post-match and outline this to a disappointed playing group that now, as always, will start afresh to improve next week.