An injury-hit Werribee Tigers have slumped to a sixth straight loss in the VFL.
The Tigers put up a commendable showing against Port Melbourne before going down by seven points at North Port Oval on Saturday.
Tigers coach John Lamont told Star Weekly the team had dug in for four quarters but the home side deserved the premiership points on the day.
“Without a doubt, we showed plenty of fight and character and hung in,” he said.
“We were probably a bit lucky that Port Melbourne were a bit inaccurate early in the game because they could’ve put us away. They had a lot more inside 50s early on.
“We showed plenty, but just in key moments there were too many mistakes. It’s been a bit of a theme for the year.”
For two games in a row, Werribee has been left shorthanded on the interchange bench. Against Coburg, before the bye, they were down to one rotation for nearly the full second half.
They fared only slightly better against Port Melbourne – down to two rotations with a quarter and a half to go.
The Tigers’ development league team and AFL affiliate North Melbourne are also hampered by lengthy injury lists.
“It’s tough on the players without a doubt, but that’s the luck of the game,” Lamont said. “It’s right through the club. We’re just smashed with injury at the minute.”
The injury that hurts most is that of ruckman/forward Majak Daw, who rolled his ankle in the Port Melbourne match and is doubtful for Saturday’s trip to Geelong.
“He was a big out for us,” Lamont said. “He’s an outside chance to play, but more likely to miss one and be right for the week after. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The spotlight turned to Braydon Preuss and the big ruckman did not disappoint.
Preuss was the Tigers’ most influential player against Port, finishing with 69 hit-outs on a day when there were plenty of stoppages.
“He was working a bit on his own and did a pretty good job,” Lamont said. “It was a tireless effort in the ruck.”
At the coal face, Isaac Conway and Tom Gribble were super for Werribee.
Josh Porter was the Tigers’ most dangerous forward with two goals. Defensively, Jake Wilson and Joel Tippett were resolute amid the high frequency of Port attacks.
Kayne Turner made a successful return to the field after a long-term hamstring injury.
Turner will spend at least four matches at Werribee following a suspension handed down by North Melbourne’s leadership group after he was charged for drink driving in May.
“He had a terrific comeback game for a bloke that’s missed six or seven weeks,” Lamont said. “He had a really good impact, worked hard and his attitude was fantastic.”
The Tigers are two games outside the eight, giving their noon clash with seventh-placed Geelong on Saturday at Simonds Stadium significance beyond the growing rivalry between the two clubs.
“It’s a bit of a local derby and it’s a critically important game for us,” Lamont said. “We’ve lost six in a row … not a great feeling, but the morale of the playing group has been terrific. It would be great for them to get back on the winners’ list and sing the song.”