Williamstown lacked its usual vibrancy early in an out-of-character 15-point loss to Werribee Tigers in the VFL at Burbank Oval on Saturday.
The Seagulls never threw in the towel but the Tigers always had them at arm’s length.
The Gulls’ lacklustre first half had them playing catch-up football for the rest of the game.
Seagulls football manager Chris Dixon conceded the close scoreline “flattered” his side as the Tigers finished with 15 more scoring shots and the lion’s share of inside 50s.
“It was disappointing,” he said. “We thought Werribee outplayed us for the majority of the game.
“Although we did get pretty close in the end, you look at the scoreboard and the amount of inside 50s they had – the margin probably flattered us.”
The Seagulls trailed by 20 points at three-quarter-time, but when Dylan Conway booted his second goal deep into time-on of the last term, the Seagulls had got to within eight points.
A long-range goal from Mason Wood re-established the Tigers’ two-goal buffer and the Seagull comeback ground to a halt.
Ben Jolley’s work at the coalface kept the Seagulls in the contest. The captain had the ball on a string in the absence of Adam Marcon.
The key ‘outs’ of Marcon, Jack Johnstone and Andrew Gallucci didn’t help the Seagull cause, but they all should return for the last round of the home-and-away campaign.
Others stood up for the Seagulls in their absence, including Cameron Lockwood, who booted five goals in the small-forward role normally undertaken by Gallucci.
“The way he was able to adapt to that role and also have an impact with his physicality was pleasing,” Dixon said.
Ed Carr did a fine job of marking the dangerous Tiger Isaac Conway while David Fahey and Ben Bese were steady in defence. Nick Meese had the unenviable task of facing Tiger ruck trio Daniel Currie, Majak Daw and Dylan Reid and didn’t have his colours lowered.
“He really battled well against them,” Dixon said.
“I think we won the hit-outs on the day so it was a pretty strong effort from him.”
The Seagulls have likely cost themselves a home game in the first week of the finals.
That will require going to minor premier Box Hill and picking up a win on Sunday and second-placed Sandringham losing to Casey Scorpions in order for the Seagulls to finish in the top two.
With the Seagulls already having secured a finals double chance, their main focus will be getting back into their early-season form after two losses from their past three games.
“The past few weeks have been a bit scratchy and inconsistent,” Dixon said.
He said the Box Hill match would be a good test against the yardstick of the comp.
“We’ve got a few guys to come back in so it should be a good game to really get a bit of momentum heading into finals,” he said.