Leeton-Whitton coach Jade Hodge brushes aside grand finall defeat to declare Crows will be back 'bigger and better'

ON THE RUN: Leeton-Whitton's Ben Gaynor tries to escape Wagga Tigers' Jacob Osbeiston in the grand final yesterday. Picture: Les Smith

ON THE RUN: Leeton-Whitton's Ben Gaynor tries to escape Wagga Tigers' Jacob Osbeiston in the grand final yesterday. Picture: Les Smith

LEETON-Whitton coach Jade Hodge brushed aside the devastation of Sunday’s heartbreaking grand final defeat to declare the Crows will be back “bigger and better” next year.

The Crows’ gave their all in a thrilling Riverina League grand final and fell four points short of an upset victory over Wagga Tigers in wet conditions at Robertson Oval.

Two goals, to Lucas Meline and James Nancarrow, within a minute put the Crows back within four points of Tigers with 17 seconds remaining in the final quarter.

Leeton-Whitton got the ball to the edge of their forward 50 when the siren sounded, meaning the club’s 38-year premiership drought stretches another season.

In a dressing shed full of devastation, Hodge remained upbeat about the direction his team is headed.

“I knew it was going to be a slog and I knew we had to apply pressure. A couple of decision making errors let us down but take nothing away from Wagga Tigers,” Hodge said.

“They were the form team all year and we knew we were going to be up against it but I also knew if we applied enough pressure then we would be thereabouts.

“In the end we were, we fell just short but I’m super proud of the boys.

“It’s been a fantastic year, they’ve grown so much and we’ve come a long way.

“We’ll be back bigger and better. We’ll learn from a few things this year and I’ve got no doubt, especially with a couple of our younger boys with another year under their belt, it’s pretty exciting times for the Leeton-Whitton Footy Club.”

The siren surprised Hodge, who was fighting for the ball alongside Tigers’ defender John Anstee.

“I thought there was another two or three minutes left. I thought we had enough time but it is what it is,” he said.

“It hurts, but I don’t like to dwell on it too much.

“I’m super proud of the boys, I’m speechless really. It’s tough.”

Leeton-Whitton youngsters Jayden Lehman and Tyh Evans were super for the Crows across half-back and through the midfield.

Experienced midfielders Bryce O’Garey and Ben Curley were good, while Mitch Hardie also played a big role for the Crows.

While there was suggestions of a couple of retirements from the Crows’ camp, Hodge said nothing was confirmed at this stage.

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