By Mark Heenan
Ocean Grove slumped to a 0-3 start in 2019 after a heart-breaking four-point loss to Queenscliff at Ray Menzies Memorial Oval on Saturday.
The loss means Ocean Grove falls to ninth spot on the ladder and, along with bottom-placed Portarlington, are the only teams without a win after three rounds.
The Easter weekend home game attracted a bumper sized crowd at Shell Road as the match went down to wire.
The home side dominated inside 50s in the dying minutes of fourth quarter and kicked three consecutive points which hurt Ocean Grove’s chances of claiming a late victory.
Ocean Grove senior playing coach Jordan Jones, who missed the loss to Drysdale with a perforated eardrum, said it was a heart-breaking loss.
“Heart-breaking it was,” a sombre Jones told the Voice in the rooms afterwards.
“We only played a half of footy though – we didn’t come switched on in the first half.”
A 29-point deficit at half-time proved costly in the final analysis for the Grubbers with Jones disappointed with his players’ output prior to main break.
A six-goal second term from Queenscliff was the catalyst in their first win for the season.
“The first half (disappointed me most),” Jones said.
“It was just our attitude and energy and effort was lacking, we were second to the ball, we were reactive to their spread, we just weren’t switched on.
“We didn’t play how we can play and how I believe the group can play.
“The boys needed a rev-up to come and play in the second half.”
The Grubbers had more inside 50s than the Coutas with 59 to 53 and in the second half time Ocean Grove had 35 entries compared with Queenscliff’s 25.
Couta spearhead Daniel De Gois booted four goals and had good supply in the second quarter where the visitors increased their one-point lead at quarter time out to 29 points at half time.
Quenscliff pair Mitchell Butteriss and Daniel Gibbs played a significant role in the win and were prominent ball winners.
Ocean Grove increased its intensity after half time and drove the ball more inside 50.
Grubber youngsters Logan Taylor, who booted three goals, and Max Sutton in his senior debut provided some spark up forward.
Under 19 tall forward Tom Richardson played his first game in the red and white in 2019 and was later taken off with a minor injury to his ankle.
“They are talented young kids and they bring some good energy and good excitement and I want them in the side,” Jones said.
New recruit Jake Ward was a focal point up forward and booted two goals in first term, while first-year Grubber Joey Perkovic and Riley Maloney gathered plenty of the ball and were named in the best.
“He (Ward) is great up forward and great avenue to goal,” he said.
Despite the loss, Jones remained upbeat after the game and said the losses to Newcomb, Drysdale and Queenscliff had been all winnable games.
“I know the whole competition is close – out of the three games they were all winnable,” Jones said.
Last year’s best and fairest winner Luke Cartelli (hamstring) and key position player Peter Hardy (sick) did not play.
QUEENSCLIFF 13.11 (89) def OCEAN GROVE 12.13 (85)
Goals: L. Taylor 3, I. Wilkins 2, J. Linton 2, J. Ward 2, T. Phelan, A. Baxter, H. Walker.
Best: L. Taylor, J. Ward, J. Perkovic, H. Walker, M. Sutton, R. Maloney.