Jake RoachWarners Bay coach Marty Reiman could not fault the effort of his young side despite another close loss, this time to second-placed Cardiff, on Saturday in their winless Black Diamond AFL campaign.
The Bulldogs led with five minutes remaining but went down12.8 (80) to 10.11(71) after two late goals from Hawk Josh Murphyat Hillsborough Oval in round nine.
Reiman was disappointed his side let the game slip away but praised their efforts after a tough opening.
“The boys battled hard,” Reiman said.
“We lost two players in the first minute, our centre-half back Luke Roach to a shoulder injury and Ben Hunter in the middle to a calf,so we played out the whole game really with 20 players.
“We’re a young side and we’ve stayed competitive this year, so it’s not too bad.
“We haven’t won a game but we’ve been in so many. I think that’s four we’ve lost by less than two goals, so we’ve just got to keep persisting.”
The Bulldogs led by 10 points at half-time but were down by nine at the last break before edging ahead 70-67.
“We should have won three or four games now but we’re only a young side and keep letting opportunities slip,” Reiman said.
He said Kayne Gibbs kicked five goals for his side, while Jake Roach was one of their best.
Cardiff coach Nathan Harkness said Murphy,Marcus Deleur and Chad Mayo were among the Hawks’ best.
Harkness said his understrength side were lucky in the end but kept enough in reserve for the all-important final 10 minutes.
“We had so many outs today and had eight changes,” Harkness said.
“It’s hard to get an continuity with our side at the moment but the players did well to get through in the end.”
Elsewhere in round nine, Terrigal Avoca remained unbeaten with a10.13(73) to 7.9(51) win over Nelson Bay andNewcastle City defeated Killarney Vale 5.8(38) to 3.10(28).