KOLORA Noorat’s premiership defence came unstuck last Saturday, with the Power going down to Old Collegians in the Warrnambool and District league’s senior football preliminary final.
The Power were chasing a second consecutive grand final berth and a shot at back-to-back flags, but it was not to be as the Warriors won 11.11 (77) to 8.7 (55).
Power coach Danny Finn conceded “things didn’t go our way” across the day in the defeat.
“The group and club are really disappointed,” he said.
“We thought we played okay throughout the day and led for the majority of it.”
The game was not entirely played on the Power’s terms, the Warriors started the better and dictated play early before the Power worked their way into the contest.
Kolora Noorat was able to move slightly clear in the second and third terms but unable to build a bigger margin as a persistent Warriors outfit remained in the contest.
Finn said that in patches it looked like his side had the upper hand, but every time they looked like breaking the game open, their opponent would find ways to stem their momentum.
He said a couple of goals late in the third quarter allowed Old Collegians to “hang in there” at the final change, before they finished strongly to secure victory.
“They definitely started really well and won plenty of the ball early,” Finn said.
“We had to play catch up but worked our way back into it by quarter time, not that we were reactive or anything.
“They just chipped the ball around and we had players playing off, but we tightened that up at quarter time.
“We pretty much controlled the second and third quarters from that point of view but we just didn’t have enough of a lead and they had a bit too much run at the end.”
Ben Fraser was best on ground for Kolora Noorat, while Sam Williams, Nick Hoare, Luke McConnell, Steve O’Connor and Nick Marshall performed well.
“Ben Fraser was outstanding in tough, slippery conditions for the day,” Finn said.
“He was amazing in the conditions and if we had have got more supply to him; he would probably have been the difference.
“Sam Williams played a really good game in the ruck and at centre half forward.”
Finn said Hoare played “nearly his best game of the year” across half forward, while McConnell on the wing and O’Connor and Marshall were good at half-back.
Patrick Moloney was also amongst the best players and had been influential for his side at centre half back until he was injured late in the final term.
Moloney’s injury was not the only blow the Power suffered, as Luke Justin was a late withdrawal pre-game.
Finn said his loss hurt the side, with Justin their “number one pressure player across half forward”.
His absence was then compounded by another injury in the opening term, this time to top rebounding defender, Luke Tebble.
Despite being undermanned across the game, Finn was pleased with how his side battled the game out.
“A lot of our run was limited but to the boys’ credit they fought their guts out,” he said.
While the loss marked the end of Finn’s four year tenure at the club, the outgoing mentor said the experience was something he was proud to be a part of.
He said he enjoyed his time at the Power and while it took some time to be part of the “fabric” of the club, he said it was great to be a part of the wider community.
“I’m proud to have been part of the place and to have made the jump from South Warrnambool,” he said.
“I was a bit hesitant at first but it’s a great place to be around and I’ve learnt a lot about the wider community.
“I really enjoyed the ups and downs, highs and lows and small wins with players and the team along with the setbacks.
“Coaching is a full on job but I’ve enjoyed the whole four years.”
With Ben Walsh set to take the coaching reins in 2019, Finn said that while there will be some areas to improve; he is content he leaves the Power in the best possible hands.
“I’m pretty comfortable I leave the place in good hands and the club is set up to continue its finals aspirations and hopefully won’t drop down from the top three,” he said.