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For the second time in a fortnight the Fitzroy Men headed south, this time to St Bedes Mentone.

In simple terms, the Tigers were playing for a finals spot, we were trying to find some winning form.

Having lost to Beaumaris and St Bernards in consecutive weeks, the Roys needed to find some winning form to stabilise our top 2 position. How long can honourable losses be explained?

As is the way in the Fitzroy world at the moment, another five changes confronted the Senior side. Out went Davie, Grace, Green, Laidlaw and Heath Ramshaw. Returning were Doherty, Lambert, Ligris, Turner and Wotherspoon. At least two of those ‘ins’ were speculative, out of necessity.

The Twos, with some significant numbers back in, were back to their best. They covered the ground beautifully, and won 126–2. Fendyk kicked half a dozen in a dominant display. He had some mates. It was a very even performance with the lessons learned over recent weeks complementing the stronger list of players.

Would the Senior Men be able to start as the Twos left off?

No, they didn’t, St Bedes had three on the board before we initiated movement. The opposition were scrimmaging well, and we were simply not ready when we should have been. This opening lethargy must be addressed.

Lambert goaled after a barnstorming centre bounce clearance from Ted Clayton, then Turner arced truly on his left. It appeared we had woken up. Until slack goal line defence conceded another. At this point, I thought to myself, in a quiet, considered fashion known to gorillas, the backline needs a rocket.

They kicked another, and it was clear we were in trouble. St Bedes were winning too many 50/50s, a sure sign that our work rate had to lift. Pyers was busy, and Toohey rapier-like with his right foot.

The returning Wotherspoon worked his backside off to find Lambert, who threaded the eye of the needle. Almost immediately however, they replied. Seakins was off with a head knock.

It was 39–20 their way at the break. Coach Mahoney implored greater attention to getting first use – he was entitled to go off his rocker. He didn’t.

Almost predictably, St Bedes kicked the opener of the second. Curcio then goaled after intense will power. Pyers, who was starring, kicked one from long range.

The centre bounce clearances were so crucial, we won another, finding Lambert for his third.

Baker was unbreakable in defence, steel personified.

Just as we crept closer, they kicked three on the trot, a mixture of generosity of spirit from the adjudicators, and swift transfers out of defence through the middle. It was back to 29 points.

Just on the siren, a searing pass from Toohey found McKay. A crucial kick after the tired-sounding hooter. Unfortunately, the kick went just right. 65–40 at the main break.

Long was off with a big corkie, and we were two defenders down, repeating the trend of recent weeks.

St Bedes kicked the opener after four minutes of to and fro. Then Pyers goaled after a pass from Ted Clayton, and Curcio again after a five-minute lull. Ramshaw then converted from long range. Our centre bounce work was improving big time, Bill Clayton and McKay rucking well.

Minahan had been busy all day and pulled off a tackle for a goal. Then a free kick was plucked on the siren for a goal to St Bedes. A minute earlier we had been denied an obvious infringement in our goal square.

It was 80–61 their way. The coach was inspirational at the huddle, but remember it’s the players who have to apply the throttle.

Turner kicked the first, they replied, and Lambert goaled after intense pressure. McKay was dominating the air, finding Lambert who unfortunately missed – twice. Faubel entered the fray and goaled, then another. It was back to 14 points at the 26-minute mark. We trimmed the margin to eight points at the final siren. 96–88.

Here's the deal. Were we honourable, resilient, noble in defeat? Yes. But so what, we lost again, and most of the responsibility rests with the slack opening. We needed to be ready and we weren’t. Are we getting too comfortable with being second on the ladder? Well, guess what, that margin evaporates when you lose three in a row.

A bye this Saturday, then Williamstown away in a must win. And I expect a player-driven response.

Guy Gorilla

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