MITTA United coach Clinton Gilson believes his team paid the ultimate price for its poor opening quarter at Sandy Creek on Saturday.
Unlike last year when the Blues fought back from a 30-point deficit at the first change to defeat Thurgoona, the reigning premier couldn’t repeat the effort after facing an identical margin at the same stage of the match.
While it closed to within a point at the five-minute-mark of the final term after peeling off five successive goals, Gilson conceded the effort took its toll.
“We started really slowly and they jumped us,” Gilson said.
“Being five goals down at quarter-time was disappointing.
“The boys were always going to bounce back as our men are pretty strong and always show good character, but it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get in front.
“We got within a kick but never in front.
“I think our start hurt us in the end.”
Barnawartha’s pace worried Mitta United early with brothers Jack and Tim Price and Matt and Kyle McNamara in everything, Cameron McNeill doing the grunt work in the midfield and Josh Spence and Matt Ladgrove roaming free in attack.
Ryan Lempa and Matt McLinden led a miserly defence which conceded just 43 goals in four finals.
The fact that Blues’ star Brent Olsen picked up a shoulder injury early and Billy Williams was stretchered from the ground in the third quarter with a similar injury didn’t help the reigning premier’s cause.
But Mitta United hit back hard as expected with Gilson admitting he was confident of winning early in the final quarter.
“I thought we would run over the top of them when we got back to virtually even,” he said.
“But full credit to them as they kicked a few late goals and ran the game out better than us.”
Gilson, who played in the Blues’ reserves losing side to Thurgoona, will coach the club again next season but in a non-playing capacity.