Temora coach Jake Wooden admitted North Wagga had all the answers in Saturday’s preliminary final and was deeply disappointed his side won’t get a chance to seek revenge against Marrar for last year’s grand final loss.
“It definitely got away on us,” Wooden said. “They’re a classy midfield… their outside run was just too good and we couldn't combat that. Our skills today didn’t help us one bit, turning the footy over a lot into their hands, short kicks we were missing.
“To North Wagga’s credit, they just outplayed us, across all aspects. Whatever we tried to do, mix it up, they had an answer for. So it was disappointing.”
No-one was more disappointed then retiring Roo, Damien Ponting, who reached the end after more than 250 games in the blue-and-white (and at least 100 more senior games as a teenager in Tasmania).
He said reality started to set in during the game as the contest got away from Temora, and admitted life after football is going to take some getting used to.
Backmen Liam Pattison, Will Reinhold and Charlie Vallance, in the second half, led Temora’s effort while Wooden also paid tribute to Anthony Atkin who battled in the ruck all day. But the coach conceded they ‘had a few passengers’.
The Roos were among the top three all season but two finals losses to the Saints and an unconvincing win against East Wagga-Kooringal meant they finished with a whimper rather than a bang.
“Yeah, definitely (we tailed off),” Wooden said.
He played despite an ankle injury during the week, while a calf injury kept him out of the qualifying final a fortnight earlier. And Tim McAuley’s anticipated return last week lasted only one game.
“We’ve had that drama for, I suppose, the last six weeks which really pushed our depth (including season-ending injuries to Rob Grant and Mark Breust).
“I think we’ve done exceptionally well to get to where we have with our depth being short – look at our twos, they've only won four games. Look at Marrar’s and North Wagga’s twos – they’re playing in a grand final. So I thought our boys battled really hard.”