Nothing in football burns quite as much as a squandered opportunity.
Barooga was eliminated by Moama last year after putting together a better regular season and co-coaches James Hazelman and Tyrone Downie will be hoping for a different result when the two teams meet again in tomorrow’s knockout semi-final at the Numurkah Showgrounds.
The lead-up to the clash, which is the same fixture in which the pair did battle last campaign, is eerily similar to the circumstances surrounding last year’s early exit for the Hawks.
As it has twice this season, Barooga had the wood over the Magpies during the year before romping into the semi-final with a big win in the first week of the series (a 77-point thumping of Rumbalara).
This time around it was Echuca United which felt the wrath of the third-placed Hawks, who piled on 18 majors to just four to once again tune up nicely in the first week of September.
The key to reversing fortunes will be the performance of the plethora of stars in the Hawks’ line-up.
Downie (48 goals) and Hazelman have led from the front all season, while Lucas Olson (27) has stood out in recent weeks as an almost unstoppable force around the grounds and in front of goals.
When you add in the talents of ruckman Brodie A’Vard, midfielder Ricky Thomson and attacking weapons Spiro Vourgaslis (43 goals), Will Gorman (46) and Matt Demaio (46), Barooga looks a team primed for success.
Standing in its way is an energised Moama outfit.
Led by the brilliance of Rhys Archard and power of Tyler Jones (40 goals in 10 matches), Mark Lloyd’s charges are peaking at the right time of the season.
The Magpies have won eight of their past nine games, including victories against Nathalia and Mulwala (twice), and are almost at full strength after an injury-plagued start to the year.
Jack McHale was the only casualty from last week’s win against the Lions with a broken collarbone and Lloyd will have had his work cut out for him at the selection table deciding which player to bring in after his reserves also recorded a stirring victory.
Whichever side uses the wide expanses of the Showgrounds to its advantage early will gain the upper hand and, in a match which is likely to go down to the wire, there is only one place you want to be when the clock hits red time — in front.