NORTH Ballarat gave VFL reigning premier Williamstown plenty to think about on Sunday.
While the Selkirk Roosters came up 28 points short, coach Marc Greig was far from discouraged with the effort at Williamstown.
North Ballarat matched the Seagulls goal-for-goal for the opening half and then in the third quarter responded to a surge to stay in touch.
Williamstown finally began to stretch its lead late in the term and a 25-point margin at the last change proved too much for the Roosters to bridge.
“We wanted to make a statement,” Greig said.
And the Roosters did with 30 tackles in the first quarter – catching the Seagulls off-guard as Greig had hoped they might by making their presence felt physically.
“While we don’t accept losing, we certainly took another step up.”
Greig said the only major downside had been a drop in efficiency to 49 per cent – something they could not afford to do.
He said talked up the run-with jobs done by Nick Rippon and Lachie Cassidy, who took the edge off key Seagulls Michael Gibbons and Willy Wheeler.
Cassidy grabbed his chance after being a call-up for Jono Lanyon (ankle).
Matt Eagles, who was signed after six rounds via pay television football reality program “The Recruit”, again showed his value.
As well as his ruck work, Eagles was one of the Roosters’ most effective with clearances.
Sam Hopper is developing into one of the finds of the year for the Roosters.
He began the year in defence, but since moving into attack has taken his game to a new level to be become a regular goalkicker and leads the Roosters’ goalkicking list for the season.
He finished with another three goals as North Ballarat threw everything at Williamstown.
North Ballarat’s next assignment is fourth-placed Collingwood at Eureka Stadium.
The Magpies will be looking to stretch the Roosters via talls Jesse White, Jarrod Witts, Brent Macaffer and Jack Frost.
North Ballarat will get back Luke Kiel after being rested, while Orren Stephenson is also a big chance to return after being sidelined with a knee injury.
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