NORTH Ballarat Rebels couldn’t quite snare a win to start their under-18 TAC Cup season, going down by 28 points to Geelong Falcons in Camperdown on Sunday.
The Rebels were competitive throughout all four quarters – trailing by less than two kicks at the first two changes – but the Falcons opened up a 27-point margin in the third term and could not be chased down.
Rebels coach David Loader said his side would continue to improve after a promising start to the season.
“There were a lot of good signs and then there were a lot of areas we have to improve,” he said.
“After watching the tape, I think we made mistakes, but there’s a lot to work with.
"We had the first three shots from about 30 metres out and kicked two behinds and one out on the full.
“The boys are learning a lot as they’re going – they’re still learning how each member of the team plays.”
Loader said while skill errors hurt the Rebels against a quality Falcons side, they made their opponents work extremely hard for the win.
“Our attack on the footy was first rate and our ability to create a contest all day was impressive,” he said.
“We continued to battle, which was a real credit to the boys.”
Eight Rebels made their TAC Cup debuts on Sunday, including Wimmera players Sam Jasper, Angus Martin and Ryan Kemp.
Martin – who kicked three goals – was named in the best players alongside fellow Wimmera representatives Josh Webster, Oscar McDonald, Darcy Tucker and Jacob O’Beirne.
Loader praised co-captain Webster for his role across half-back and through the midfield and said McDonald had played his best game at TAC Cup level.
He said O’Beirne ran hard all day and Martin showed he had the attributes to be successful in the under-18 competition.
Webster, 19 possessions, Tucker, 19 possessions, and O’Beirne, 18 possessions, were among the Rebels’ leading ball-winners, while McDonald plucked eight marks and found the ball on 17 occasions.
The Rebels will hit the road again at the weekend when they take on the Bendigo Pioneers at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
Loader predicted there would be between two to five changes due to injury and player unavailability.
The Rebels under-16 development squad kicked off its AFL Victoria Country Championships campaign with a 10.11.71 to 8.3.51 win over the Falcons in the TAC Cup curtain-raiser.
Horsham Saint Jarrod Berry was named among the Rebels best six players.