North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin insists their confidence hasn’t been hammered by giving up another lead against Marrar in Saturday’s second semi-final at Maher Oval. But he was disappointed they couldn’t put the game away after controlling much of the second and third quarters.
“We had seven more inside 50s than them and didn’t make the most of our opportunities going inside 50,” Hamblin said. “(Marrar’s) Clint and Mitch Taylor cut off too much ball and we had a bit too much tunnel vision going towards DJ (North Wagga forward Daniel Jordan).”
Injuries to backman Ned Mortimer, who was helped off after hyper-extending his knee in the fourth quarter but did return, and ruckman Dave Karlberg, who went off with calf problems in the third quarter, added to Saints’ worries in the wake of their 11-point loss.
But Hamblin said there’s no cause for panic after one finals loss and he was pleased with the way they won the midfield battle for much of the game.
“We were well on top in the clearances in the first half and the midfield was going well,” he said. “In the last quarter they got on top in the midfield and that put our backline under a lot of pressure and they ran away with it.
“I thought we fought back well deep in the last quarter. Years ago we probably would’ve put our head down and buried it in the sand but we kept fighting til the end and there wasn’t much in the game at all.
“Definitely (we can recover). Last time they beat us out there we bounced back and had our best win of the year, against Temora. We haven’t lost too much confidence yet. We’ve been in both games and had our opportunities to win those games so we’ll go in to next week with a lot of confidence.”
Mortimer remains confident he’ll be right for next Saturday’s preliminary final at Robertson Oval but Karlberg’s calves are a major concern. His absence meant James Morris moving out of the forward line, where he was a constant headache, into the ruck at times in the last quarter to give Charles Shaw a break.