NORTH Ballarat Rebels’ top-four chances have diminished after their 19-point TAC Cup loss to Calder Cannons at Horsham City Oval on Sunday.
The Rebels were competitive throughout the match, but could not match the second-placed Cannons on the scoreboard, with the visitors posting a 12.18 (90) to 10.11 (71) victory.
Rebels coach David Loader said his side had its chances.
“To probably finish that close to a quality team wasn’t a bad result really,” he said.
“You always look for why it happens.
“We had a lot of the ball early on and didn’t hit the scoreboard.
“Our effort around the ball was good – we’ve just got a few things we need to work on.”
The loss of star on-baller Jacob Hopper to injury in the opening term did not help the Rebels’ cause.
Just one point separated the sides at quarter-time, but the Rebels could only manage 1.7 in the second term to trail by 14 points at the major break.
Both sides exchanged goals in the third quarter, with the Rebels’ quick ball movement counteracting the Cannons’ height and strength across the ground.
“We simplified things a little bit across the ground and we started getting some results,” Loader said.
“We were just never able to close that gap – they always just seemed to be a step or two in front of us.”
The Rebels closed the gap to just six points late in the third quarter, but the Cannons, who kicked 3.8 for the term, held a deserved 15-point lead at the final change.
It proved too much for the Rebels to overcome, with disposal by foot letting the hosts down.
James Wheelahan, Sam Bennett and Daniel Butler finished with two goals each for the Rebels, while Jayden Foster kicked four for the Cannons.
Reilly O’Brien, whose father Damien grew up in Horsham, was named the Cannons’ best player, while Joel Cowan impressed for the Rebels, as did Edenhope-Apsley product Oscar McDonald.
Five sides – including the Rebels – are tied on 36 points from third to seventh place on the ladder going into the final round at the weekend.
A win against top team Oakleigh Chargers could see the Rebels return to the top four – pending other results – and earn a finals double chance.