NORTH Ballarat Rebels will need to win at least one, if not both of their remaining TAC Cup games to secure a top-four spot after losing to Tasmania on Sunday.
The Rebels led at every change against the Mariners at Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium, but the lead changed hands a number of times in the final quarter.
A goal from James Gow with 23 minutes gone in the final term gave the Rebels the upper hand, before the Mariners responded with the final goal of the game to claim an 11.8 (74) to 10.12 (72) win.
Despite the loss, the Rebels remain in fourth spot on the ladder, one win ahead of their nearest rival.
But they face the toughest of runs home, hosting second placed Calder Cannons on August 17 in Horsham before taking on ladder leader Oakleigh Chargers on August 23 in Ballarat.
Rebels coach David Loader said post-game it was a big loss in the scheme of the season.
“A win gave us a real live opportunity at a top-four finish and a double chance,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean that’s beyond reach now, but it certainly puts us right back in the ball park.”
After a promising start, Loader described the loss as disappointing.
“We knew exactly what we needed to do, we just didn’t work hard enough to do it,” he said.
“Our first 10 minutes was fantastic, then all of a sudden for whatever reason we took the foot off the pedal and let Tassie back into the game.
“Good sides don’t do that.”
An injury to captain and Laharum product Keegan Mason in the opening minutes did not help the Rebels.
Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said Mason did not return and had scans on Monday morning.
Jacob Hopper was a clear stand-out for the hosts, collecting 34 disposals and kicking three goals.
Wimmera players Jacob O’Beirne, Tom Taurau and Oscar McDonald were among the Rebels’ better performers.
O’Beirne collected 18 possessions and six tackles in defence, McDonald had 17 disposals and six marks and Taurau slotted three goals from eight kicks.
Wimmera debutant Rhona Conboy finished with eight disposals.
Partington said fit players would have the option to play with their local clubs at the weekend, while a number of players would represent St Patrick’s College in its Herald Sun Shield final against Box Hill Secondary College at the MCG on Friday.