WODONGA coach Ben Hollands is confident the Bulldogs can salvage something from their nightmare season, despite coughing up yesterday’s Wodonga derby to the Raiders by 10 points.
The Bulldogs all but assured themselves of their second wooden spoon in four seasons when they sunk three wins behind their cross-town rival with just six rounds remaining.
Hollands, who again did everything he could to get Wodonga over the line, said there was no doubt the Bulldogs had wasted a golden opportunity to break their 14-match losing streak that dates back to round 16 last year.
“We should have won today,” Hollands said after yesterday’s defeat.
“We had more than enough chances.
“We just couldn’t get it done.”
The Bulldogs made all the right moves early at Birallee Park and dominated possession around the ground.
There was just one problem — they made no impact on the scoreboard.
Wodonga missed a string of gilt-edged chances in front of goal, with several offenders throughout the game.
“We had a few opportunities, particularly early in the first quarter to get four or five on the board but we just didn’t take our opportunities,” Hollands said.
“I think I can count four goals we missed from 10 or 15 metres.
“It became a real battle after that.”
Up the other end, the Raiders made the most of their forays forward and booted four consecutive goals after John Pratt kicked the first of the game for Wodonga.
However, the Bulldogs hit back with two late goals to end the half, with a strike off the ground that Lionel Messi would have been proud of from Sam Wortmann reeling the deficit back to just three points at the main break.
The Raiders’ game-winning burst came courtesy of star forward Dean Limbach, who did his best Lance Franklin impersonation with four goals in the opening 10 minutes of the third quarter.
He finished with seven for the game.
Jack Di Mizio starred after being thrown up forward in the second half and lifted his team with two crucial goals at important stages.
Playing coach Ben Klemke left the ground with what looked to be a serious shoulder injury in the opening minute of the game but returned.
The Raiders’ other coach, Simon Bone, said yesterday’s win was desperately needed.
“A footy club’s not enjoyable when you’re not winning games, particularly in July when it’s two degrees and pouring rain,” he said.
“But it builds character. We hadn’t won since Anzac Day.
“We’ve got to make sure in the remaining games that we have an impact on the competition.
“We don’t want to be irrelevant.”
Hollands said he was confident Wodonga would not finish the season winless.
“Apart from the Albury game and the second time we played Lavington, we’ve been competitive in every game,” he said.
“That’s part of everyone’s frustration.
“The last few weeks we’ve been right in the thick of it and it’s been pretty heartbreaking for the boys.
“Not just the boys, but friends and family and supporters of the club.”