'We were lazy': Gympie Cats rue crucial loss in finals race
AFL: Slow starts could end up costing the Gympie Cats a finals spot in their inaugural QFA Division 3 season after they surrendered a crucial home game to the Moorooka Roosters on Saturday afternoon.
New co-coach Jason Kent was left to lament his side's sluggish effort out of the blocks as they gave away a 41-point first quarter lead to make the job almost insurmountable for the rest of the match.
A spirited late comeback put the Cats within three goals early in the final term, but the damage was already done. The Roosters kicked away once again to wrap up the 20.9 (129) to 12.7 (79) win and pull two games clear of their opponents on the league ladder.
"The first quarter was horrible, we were just lazy,” Kent said.
"We were undisciplined, lazy ... we just didn't bring it. We didn't play like what it meant to (us). We've done that a few times this year, about four times, given up big leads. In the last quarter we had nothing left to give.
"If they didn't give away eight goals at the start, it's not (an eight goal loss) at the end. It's a problem at the moment.”
Veteran midfielder Scott Stiefler was a shining light in defeat, repeatedly receiving handballs from the coalface and driving the ball inside 50 to set up forwards Brad Forbes and Patrick Harris.
Perhaps the best Gympie highlight also came from Stiefler - twisting and turning around multiple opponents and drilling the ball home from about 40 metres to give his side an ultimately futile boost.
Daniel Hare, nicknamed "Sicily” for his resemblance to the Hawthorn star, also earned praise from his coach, as well as veteran Lanze Magin and co-captain Jesse Lawrence.
"The on-ballers got us back into the game,” Kent said.
Inaugural The Gympie Times Player of the Week Harris added another three majors to his impressive season tally of 51, while youngster Henry Hamilton also booted three goals.
Last year's AFL Wide Bay premiers face a tough task to land a finals spot - they sit third last on the ladder with three wins and eight losses, two games behind the Roosters in fifth, and a further two behind fourth-placed Kedron.
The Cats will need an inspirational performance across all four quarters if they are to overcome Kedron away from home this week.