By Justin Flynn
After three weeks of competitive football that yielded two wins and a close loss, Ocean Grove came back down to earth with a 152-point drubbing at the hands of Torquay.
Two consecutive wins against Queenscliff and Newcomb and a heart-breaking six-point loss to Anglesea had the Grubbers riding some sort of form, but Torquay showed just how far Pete Davey’s side has to go.
To be fair, Ocean Grove was missing 13 of its best 22 due to illness and COVID, but Davey refused to blame that on the loss, preferring to look at the positives of debuting two more young players and the efforts of the team that took the field.
Davey himself spent periods of the second half asleep in his car after being knocked around with the bug that swept through the club. Glenn Campbell took over the coaching duties after quarter time.
Tim Lazarro and Bailey Payne played their first senior games in the red and white with Payne even playing on Tigers’ star Paul McMahon for periods of the match. Payne’s father Matt was a star for the Grubbers and won the Ash Medal in 2000.
Torquay won 27.14(176) to Ocean Grove 3.6(24). Ocean Grove scored all three goals in the third quarter and was scoreless in the second and final terms.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult day given some of the challenges we faced during the week from a personnel perspective,” Davey said.
“They are the benchmark of the competition and we battled hard against some odds but in the end, they just ran over the top of us.”
Sheldon Ham booted seven goals and Ben Raidme six as the Tigers did as they pleased after quarter time. A 13-goal to none final term really blew out the final margin.
Davey said the Anglesea loss last week stung, but had little to do with the shellacking against Torquay.
“The Anglesea loss certainly stung but I’d like to think that it hasn’t taken any wind out of our sails,” he said.
“We set some goals at the halfway point and we ticked a couple of those off on Saturday by debuting two more boys.
“It wasn’t the result they or we would have liked but at least it’s a game under their belt.
“They have a taste now and both have said they want more so that’s a real positive on an otherwise tough day.”
The Grubbers have the chance to get back onto the winner’s list next round when they play the winless Portarlington, which will have former Melbourne captain Nathan Jones playing a one-off game. The league has a general bye this weekend.
“We want to learn as much as we can,” Davey said.
“In two weeks we play Portarlington and they have Nathan Jones playing. It’ll be a great opportunity for us to play a couple of young players on him and for them to learn what playing in the midfield is all about.
“We’ll find positives and we’ll celebrate our own internal wins. It might not mean winning every game, but it will set us up for next year and beyond.”
Speaking of next year, Davey said he hoped the players who took a year off this season would return.
“We had a huge turnover from last season with half the side from our last game in 2021 either playing at a higher level, retiring, being injured or taking a year off,” he said.
“I’d just love to have a few guys who have taken a year off footy – for really valid reasons – come back and enjoy playing footy again.
“I don’t want the club to go on a recruitment spree as we don’t need to. We have quality people and quality players on board, in our juniors or within arm’s reach.”
In the reserves, Ocean Grove is in fifth spot after a 48-point loss to top side Torquay.
The Grubbers are two games clear of Newcomb in fifth place.
Cory Connor took his season’s tally to 26 goals with a further four for Ocean Grove while Trent Handreck and Jeremy Smith were named best.