Loss causes finals doubt

By Brayden May

THE RACE for the Goulburn Valley League’s top six is beginning to heat up and Rochester finds itself in a precarious position.

When the Tigers were presented with an opportunity to stamp their authority on the competition against an inconsistent Euroa on Saturday, they failed.

In a performance which was labelled as ‘‘disappointing’’ by coach James Flaherty, the home side struggled to get going as it went down by 27 points.

‘‘We played as poorly as we have all year,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think we came to play and thought everything would happen for us. Euroa played like their season was on the line and we couldn’t match their intensity.

‘‘It’s extremely disappointing because of the big steps forward we had taken.’’

During the early stages of the season, Rochester’s ball movement forward of centre was arguably their biggest weakness due to a lack of cohesion between the midfielders and forwards.

Despite improvements in recent weeks, the ugly side of the Tigers’ game reared its head against the Magpies.

‘‘We didn’t provide our forwards with clean opportunities inside 50,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘Our ball movement continued to fall down across half-forward and it’s an area we will continue to work on going forward.’’

When the ball was deep inside forward 50, young James McPhee made the most of his opportunities kicking five goals.

‘‘James is becoming an extremely dangerous forward,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘He is continuing to develop on a weekly basis and always gives a contest when the ball is in his area. I was really pleased with the way he was able to convert his set shots.’’

Following two straight defeats, the Tigers will now enjoy a week off as they prepare for a rollercoaster five games to end the season.

‘‘We will use the time away to reflect on what we need to do if we are to play finals,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘Our best is good enough to challenge all the teams in the competition, but we need to be finding it consistently.’’

Rochester will face reigning premier Kyabram following the bye.