An inaccurate display in front of goal has seen the Cootamundra Blues winning streak stopped at 3 as the Blues fell to the Googong Hogs by 10 points last Saturday.
Playing in tricky weather conditions, the Blues had more scoring shots than their opponents, but failed to make the most of their opportunities, going down 8.14.62 to 11.6.72.
It was Googong who got off to a fast start, kicking the opening two goals of the game before the Blues managed to respond.
Missing club leaders Phil Bird, Jacob Tiernan and Michael Knagge, it was coach Joe Scott who stepped up in an effort to inspire his side.
Spending more time in the midfield than usual, Scott relished the wet, muddy conditions, getting through a heavy workload on the ball.
The returning Brad McNamara was also highly influential on the day.
The Blues ruckman showed no signs of rust, giving the Blues on ballers first opportunity while winning plenty of football for himself.
Googong continued to apply pressure throughout the first half, but the Blues never let them get out to a comfortable lead.
In just his second game for the year, Sam Gash reminded all onlookers of his class.
Gash, despite being just 16 years of age, was electric, bursting through repeat contests and willing his side forward.
Filling in down back due to a shortage of key defenders, Aaron Basham also put together a great game.
Normally at home in the midfield, Basham stepped up to help his side and showed great leadership as well as plenty of class across the back flank.
Blake Basham was again his hugely influential self, despite being given the difficult task of playing on a highly talented opponent.
Down at half time, Scott challenged his troops to step up and take the game on.
The Blues responded, playing their best quarter of the day to drag themselves back into the contest.
Troy Piercy was a tackling machine throughout the day, harassing his opponents at every contest and making sure there was no easy ball to be won.
Zac Stevens also produced his best game for the club, providing an excellent link target on the wing and always finding himself around the footy.
With Sandy Maskell-Knight receiving close attention from the Hogs defenders, brothers Nick and Harvey Holt began to utilise the extra space afforded to them and looked dangerous each time the ball entered the Blues forward line.
Lifting their work rate, the Blues managed to claw their way into the lead early in the fourth quarter. Googong would respond though, kicking two quick goals to give themselves some breathing room.
The Blues had multiple opportunities to hit the front again, but luck would not be on their side, with both Gash and Piercy both hitting the post while kicking for goal.
However victory wasn’t to be for the Cootamundra side, Googong would hold their nerve, kicking a late goal to seal the victory.
Goals: Pearson 3, Bungey 1, N Holt 1, Stevens 1, Scott 1, McNamara 1. Best: Pearson, Scott, Piercy, Bungey, Gash, A.Basham. The loss sees the Blues drop to 5th on the ladder on percentage points.
Cootamundra will have the opportunity to turn things around this Saturday, 21st of May when they finally return to Clarke Oval to play host the visiting Molonglo Juggernauts. Molonglo, currently occupying 9th on the ladder, have had a difficult start to the season but are traditionally a very skilled side, with games between the two teams often coming down to the wire.
Cootamundra’s selectors will have plenty of work on their plate this week, with talented on baller Andy Merritt and crafty forward Angus Ross both confirmed as unavailable.
The Blues will also be sweating on the fitness of defender Jarrod Keelan and leading goal kicker Sandy Maskell-Knight, both of whom pulled up sore after Saturday’s game.
Making matters easier for Cootamundra should be the expected returns of Phil Bird, Jacob Tiernan and Cody Jordan, all of whom play hugely influential roles for the side.
Making Saturdays game even more important is the fact that the Blues will finally get to host their official club rooms opening as well as the 1992 first grade and 1997 reserve grade premiership reunions.
With a host of Blues greats confirmed to be attending, the current playing squad will have more than enough motivation to bring home the victory.
All supporters and former players are welcome to attend and check out the Blues new facilities. First bounce is back at the usual 2pm time slot.
Photo Credit: Belinda Holt