OH, SO close.
Kyabram aside, there aren’t many challenges in GVL football bigger than Benalla right now.
And our Tigers almost knocked them off.
In the contest from the opening bounce — including leading at the first two changes — the Rochester Tigers fell to the Saints by just eight points on Saturday.
The usual suspects up forward — Steven Stroobants and Rhys Free — combined for five goals.
But it just wasn’t quite enough.
And as is the case in a tight loss, the Tigers are left to ruminate over the opportunities let slip.
On this occasion, those missed opportunities were as clear as day.
The Saints put through 10.6 on the day, and were reasonably accurate.
But the Tigers booted 10 behinds, arguably kicking themselves out of the game.
Coach James Flaherty said his side would rue the missed chances.
‘‘It’s a very disappointing place to be in,’’ he said.
‘‘Against really good quality sides like Benalla, if you don’t put them away and you leave them with a few chances and opportunities to get back into the game, they will get on top of you.
‘‘It was a bit like the Euroa game in a way. We did have the opportunities to get the victory. But we didn’t use the ball as well as we could have, particularly in the final quarter, and that really came back to hurt us late.’’
What is most disappointing for the Tigers is the results are coming as a result of small issues.
‘‘We really haven’t been playing badly,’’ Flaherty said.
‘‘The way that we play has been really good, the game plan is working. We are, unfortunately, letting ourselves down with some very minor mistakes like the way that we handle the ball.
‘‘These are also things that are really easy to fix. It’s something that we will continue to work on across the next few weeks as we look to continue our improvement.’’
But hope is by no means gone — not even close.
The Tigers sit in eighth spot on the ladder with a 4-5 record, and this week take on sixth place Echuca.
A win would make a huge difference to the sides season.
And Flaherty admits it would mean even more against their local rivals.
‘‘We are really looking for that win,’’ he said.
‘‘In many ways it doesn’t matter to us who we are coming up against. Our focus is winning games of football and that is what we will be looking for this week.
‘‘But at the same time, there is something special about playing Echuca. They’re close to us, so there is a strong rivalry between the two clubs, and it would be special to get the win.’’