OSBORNE coach Joel Mackie warned his side of the challenges ahead after suffering a 25-point loss to Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes at Mangoplah on Saturday.
Despite being bolstered by the inclusion of Mackie, Elliott Powell, Zach Bye and Bill Alexander, the Ostriches were outgunned by a slick outfit hell-bent on staying in touch with the top four.
MCUE dominated the first-half to lead by 33 points before Osborne responded to a Mackie tongue-lashing and cut the deficit to six points at the last change.
The Goannas had the answers however with young gun George Kendall's strong marking proving decisive in the final 20 minutes.
"One quarter doesn't win a game of footy," Mackie said.
"You could see from the outset that they were primed for it.
"It's a good competition and if you don't show up you will get found out.
"It was a good effort to respond after half-time but you shouldn't have to rely on a spray.
"We just couldn't wrestle it back."
Mackie's debut in the AFL Riverina Championship turned sour minutes into the clash when he stretched forward to take a Connor Galvin handball and tweaked a hamstring.
He came off the ground for treatment before returning to play as a permanent forward where he kicked two third-quarter goals.
"I did a similar thing against Lavington last year and played the following week," he said.
"I'll have a scan and see what it says.
"I won't risk it though."
Matt Rava was again strong for Osborne and capped off an impressive showing with two majors, Duncan McMaster stood tall in defence before being swung into the ruck and Nick Perryman toiled hard in the midfield.
Powell had his moments by showing some trademark dash but was generally well held by a potent Goanna midfield led by Jack Reynolds.
Although Ed Perryman tried hard, he was unable to exert the same influence as the previous week.
Osborne will play at home for the first time this season against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong on Saturday.
The Lions scored a comfortable win against undermanned opposition when they met in a practice match.
"Every game is tough in this competition," Mackie said.
"We'll regroup from this and see how we go."