It was a brave and gallant effort by an undermanned Deni Rams but they couldn’t quite get the job done in a 16 point loss on the road against Mulwala on Saturday.
Missing the likes of Todd Gallagher, Ash Morris and Brayden Hall, the Rams took it right up to the fourth placed Lions, leading by seven points at three quarter time.
After kicking the first goal in the last, the visitors were in the box seat for an upset win, but the bigger-bodied home side managed to muscle their way back in front with 5.5 in the final stanza.
Beau Clarke and Jackson Gash had their goal-kicking boots on for the Lions with four and three respectively, while Liam Russell and Sean Robinson also impressed for the victors.
The Rams were well served in attack by Adrian Pappin (four goals) and Joel Park (three), with ruckman Chris O’Connor, Nick Howe and Ricky Gittens also playing an outstanding game.
Final score, Mulwala 12.16 (88) to Deni Rams 11.6 (72).
Rams co-coach Sam Hall said there were ‘‘pretty mixed emotions’’ in the changeroom following the result.
‘‘Both Frog (Rams co-coach Troy Bartlett) and I were quite proud of the effort shown,’’ he said.
‘‘No-one gave us a chance without Gags (Gallagher), Morris and Hally, so to be in a winning position was good.
‘‘But then there was the disappointment that we let the game slip out of our hands.
‘‘We’ve had a few games now where we haven’t been able to finish it off.’’
It was a loss that came with huge positives for the Rams, with an avenue to goal that has been missing for the majority of the season being found on Saturday.
Hall praised the efforts of Pappin and Park, who helped the side have a much more accurate day in front of goal.
‘‘It was Adrian Pappin’s best game all year,’’ he said.
‘‘He presented well and made himself a focus up forward with his leading as a traditional full forward.
‘‘We knew big Parksy could do what he did on Saturday. He had a serious burn to his foot which kept him out for the first six games of the year and then he played a couple of weeks in the twos before getting the call-up.
‘‘He’s got a nice set of hands and is particularly strong overhead, so it’s good to know we have another big target up forward.
‘‘Jayden Pitts also had a great 150th (game). He’s played predominantly forward this year and we moved him back as a key defender which is where he’s played most of his senior footy.
‘‘There were lots of positives to take out of the game, especially because everyone contributed at some point during the game.
‘‘If there’s a silver lining it’s that we’re getting games into young men and that we haven’t been getting blown off the park.’’
The Rams will have another tough encounter this week when they host third placed Numurkah on Saturday.
A second half fade-out from the Rams reserves saw them defeated by the Lions to the tune of 40 points.
After scores were level at the first break, Deni trailed by just 14 points at the main break.
Six goals to two in the second half saw Mulwala run away with the victory, with the Rams dropping down to 10th spot.
Final score, Mulwala 10.10 (70) to Deni Rams 4.6 (30).
Jason Allitt and Blair Sartore continued their strong form to be named among the better players for the Rams again this week.
Others to impress were Mark Panton, Michael Farley, Shane Werner and Logan Ives.