MANGOPLAH-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes coach Jeremy Rowe conceded a lack of resilience when put under pressure in two of their past three games is a big cause for concern after they were outplayed by a far hungrier Turvey Park at Maher Oval on Saturday.
Having returned to the top of the table last week, the Goannas' reluctance to roll up their sleeves and withstand the Bulldogs' relentless pressure was exposed by the hosts in a 12.7 (79) to 8.9 (57) win.
Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong's win over Griffith returned them to the top of the ladder, which means MCUE must rely on Coolamon to upset the Lions next week to be a hope of claiming top spot.
But they have bigger issues to solve right now after a vulnerability when put under pressure was exploited for the second time in three weeks.
MCUE led by eight points early in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs dominated the rest of the game to secure their best win of the year.
Rowe was fuming after the match, and his team has two games to rectify their issues before finals begin.
"Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade, we all have to be absolutely filthy with that performance," Rowe said.
"Turvey were tremendous today. They had a lot of senior players out of their side, but their young group rose to the occasion.
"However the side they played against just showed no resilience today. When we had ball in hand we operated at reserve grade level, and when the ball was in dispute or there was a contest to be won, we sometimes resembled an underage side that was being pushed all over the place by an opponent that was really desperate and hungry."
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Rowe refused to blame the absence of key players, including full forward Trent Castles (illness) and ruckman Sam de Sousa (unavailable).
"Personnel wasn't the problem, our lack of composure and lack of energy and fight was. You'll never win a final without those things so yes, I'm very concerned about the performance today," he said.
"As much as I feel like a goose saying that right now, I do feel confident in our group. I've seen enough this year to feel like we're a different beat to what we've been in previous years, and that lack of resilience and paper thin approach when teams come at us has not been on display this year.
"However it's now happened twice in the last three weeks, so you'd be naive to say you weren't concerned.
"I'm filthy at them right now, I'm so angry and annoyed with what I've just seen, but at the end of the day I'll back them and we'll work on it together.
"I don't know where the willingness to be beaten came today. I've got to find out where it's coming from and the players have to look in the mirror and ask why they behaved and acted the way they did today."
Attributing the result to the Goannas' shortcomings would be a major disservice to the Bulldogs, were displayed fight and energy that had been missing in meek losses to Collingullie-Glenfield Park and Leeton-Whitton the past fortnight.
But motivated to ensure skipper Jack Haggar and Brendan Bryce celebrated their 100th senior games for the club in style, Turvey Park duly delivered.
Missing the likes of Ash Harris (groin), Mitch Ward (knee) and Darcy Irvine (concussion), the young dogs stood up, with Will Ashcroft and Baxter Wallett bagging three goals apiece.
"It's a bloody frustrating game," Turvey Park coach Michael Mazzocchi said of his team's turnaround.
"It's really frustrating because in our last two games, our starts have been putrid. It's been like that all year, one week we'll smash someone and the next week drop off.
"When things are going bad and the committee's really starting to ask questions about where we're going and are we taking the right direction, to get a win like that against a good team does show we're on the improve."
Turvey Park 2.1 6.4 9.5 12.7 (79) def MCUE 3.3 4.5 6.7 8.9 (57)
Goals: Turvey Park Bulldogs - Baxter Wallett 3, Will Ashcroft 3, Lachlan Leary 2, Chase Grintell, Tyler Cunningham, Brendan Bryce, Billy Glanvill; MCUE - Brayden Ambler 2, James Godde, Christian Palombi, Justin Dore, Jacob Whitley, Flynn Collins, Jake Hindmarsh
Best: Turvey Park - Andrew Saddler, Stephen Camp, Jack Glanvill, Billy Glanvill, Luke Fellows, Chase Grintell; MCUE - Ryan Turnbull, Brayden Ambler, Jake Hindmarsh, Nick Collins, George Kendall, Jacob Whitley
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