GEELONG Falcons were left smarting after copping their heaviest defeat of the NAB League season in an 87-point thumping from Oakleigh Chargers on Sunday.
The Falcons fielded 14 bottom-age players at Avalon Airport Oval and didn’t have any clear winners.
However, coach Luke Daffy said onballer Charlie Lazzaro and wingman Noah Gribble could hold their heads high in the 20.9 (129) to 6.6 (42) defeat.
“We just got outplayed today by a much better side,” Daffy said.
“They wanted the footy first at the source and then outworked us forward of the footy.
“They exposed us a bit in transition and around the centre of the ground.
“Charlie Lazzaro worked pretty hard at times as a midfielder for us, and Noah Gribble on the wing, but they definitely had a much more even spread across the field than what we did.”
Oakleigh took control early and led by 58 points at the last change before kicking six goals to one in the last quarter to put Geelong away.
It was the Falcons’ 10th loss in 12 matches this season, but only their third by a margin greater than five goals in a campaign littered with near misses.
“We were disappointed with the effort in the last quarter,” Daffy said.
“We challenged the playing group to at least fight it out, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
Geelong has a bye next week before hosting Greater Western Victoria Rebels at GMHBA Stadium.
It is the first of three games against opponents currently sitting in the bottom half of the ladder, allowing the Falcons the chance to finish the season strongly.
“We’ll continue to play our 17-year-olds, and it’s a good opportunity for those bottom-age players to get some games into them and learn for next year,” Daffy said.
“We’re still challenging our top-agers to contribute more, and we’d like to see a bit more improvement from them towards the end of the year.
“There is going to be games there for some of our younger players, and they should be using that as a learning opportunity, but also to recognise what’s expected at the level.”
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.4, 10.6, 14.8, 20.9 (129)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.3, 3.3, 5.4, 6.6 (42)
Goals; Oakleigh Chargers: D. Williams 5, J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Bianco 2, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes 2, C. Sharman 2, T. Graham, J. Ayton-Delaney, T. Lovell
Geelong Falcons: C. Sprague 3, M. Lord, C. Karpala, O. Henry
Best; Oakleigh Chargers: R. McInnes, D. Williams, J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, T. Graham, V. Zagari
Geelong Falcons: C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, H. Whyte, O. Henry