The Sunbury Lions need to turn their form around quickly if they are to keep their Ballarat Football League finals streak alive.
The Lions have played finals every year they’ve been in the competition but on current form look set to miss out this season.
They’ve lost six out of their past nine games, including a disappointing loss to Darley on Saturday.
The Lions never looked likely to take the points at the weekend, with the Devils winning 13.18 (96)-7.10 (52).
Lions coach Ben Jordan didn’t mince his words after the game.
“It followed the trend of our recent performances,” he said. “We’re not playing good footy and the confidence isn’t there.
“We were second to the ball and were not accountable and when we got it [the ball] we haven’t been clean with it.
“When you’re not confident and are second for the footy, and when you then do get it, you tend to rush or make poor decisions.
“It’s where we have been for a little while.”
Jordan said the result could have been a 70 to 80-point loss had the Devils been able to convert their opportunities.
The Devils had 18 more inside 50s and 13 more marks in the forward 50 as they dominated play.
“I would like to at least see us making it hard for them to move the ball. The result well and truly out of the question,” Jordan said.
He said Nathan Bridgland, Lachie Bramble, Brad Mundy and Jack Fenner were the best, but there wasn’t any real standouts.
Bridgland and Ben Guthrie kicked two goals apiece in the loss.
The Lions are now sitting eighth, a game outside the top six and only one game behind third-placed Bacchus Marsh.
They have a bye this week, before matches against Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Lake Wendouree who are all fighting for finals spots.
Jordan said he wasn’t sure if the bye was coming at a good time.
“I don’t know if it comes at a perfect time, but we can’t play much worse than we have been,” he said. “It’s not something you can cure overnight. We’ve just got to try and reload a little bit and keep talking to the boys about resetting mentally and try and come again.”
As for finals, Jordan said they know the task that is ahead of them.
“We’ve had the focus for the last two to three games that we have to win every game, knowing our fixture is harder than other teams.
“We win three we might make it in. That’s all we have to focus on.”
In the A-grade netball, the Lions were made to fight all the way against the Devils.
The Lions, who had four B-grade players playing, trailed in the second quarter, before moving ahead.
They stayed in front, but were pushed all the way, winning 56-53. Renee Hulls shot 30 goals. Ruth Smith shot 26 goals and was named the Lions best.