Kilmore’s 46-point road loss to Heidelberg West in Saturday’s Northern Football Netball League division three clash was a disappointment but not a disaster, according to coach Nathan Phillips.
With star midfielder Chris Ryall and centre half-forward Bailey Taylor-Egan sidelined, the Blues’ cause was hindered further when onballer Chris Barton split his head open at the start of the second quarter.
Kilmore’s midfield was stretched to the limit, with Leigh Irons and Mick Marrett, playing with a corked thigh, left to shoulder much of the load.
Cole Ibister, in only his second senior game, became a key part of the Blues’ midfield rotation, while fellow second-gamer Jake Beattie and debutants Ethan Fitzpatrick and Alex Vasilevski also experienced a trial by fire.
Phillips said the side’s inexperience and lack of depth showed in the 6.7 (43) to 12.17 (89) loss.
“We were able to take the ball down the ground and kick goals on a few occasions in the first and last quarters without them touching the ball, but for the most part we continued to play long-down-the-line footy that was predictable and easy for them to pick off and counterattack from,” he said.
“It’s not that we didn’t try – the boys were working at times, but they just made poor contest decisions off the ball.”
A bright spot for the Blues was Bailey Derrick, who, like his brother Ethan, has been in strong form.
Phillips said he made consistently good decisions with the ball in hand.
“Ciaran Barton has been out for a couple of weeks now, so ‘Baz’ has got the starting job and he’s been really good. He takes the game on, gets to the right spots and uses the footy really well,” he said.
“He didn’t waste a disposal and made the right decisions when he had the ball, which was pleasing to see.”
Kilmore will play seventh-placed Reservoir at home on Saturday.
Phillips said it was important for the Blues to keep banking wins to shore up a finals berth.
“We just need to make sure that from here we keep on winning and keep working hard,” he said.
“South Morang had seven or eight of their top 12 players out early in the season – now it’s our turn.
“Hopefully the experience for the younger guys means if we do need to call on them in the future, they’re ready.”