Stawell Warriors 2012 season review.
Despite a bright start, Stawell Westlift Warriors had a horror 2012 season with injuries and player unavailability hitting the team hard.
Stawell began the season with a fresh look - a new coach (Andrew Bach) as well as new players including Nick Thomas, Adam Taylor and Robert Vaughan.
Warriors were buoyed by the re-signing of last year's captain James Delahunty and 2011 best and fairest winner Justin Eales.
However, the losses of last year's bigger bodied and experienced senior players Brent Tuckey, Dale Power, Ben Williamson and Dale Hurley were felt more as the year progressed.
Stawell opened the 2012 season with a narrow loss to Horsham Saints.
Leading by 18 points at three quarter time, Warriors blew their chance to exact revenge on the team that cut short their 2011 finals series, going down to Saints by two points in what was a tough contest.
A week later, Stawell bounced back with a 98-point win over Nhill but it came at a cost with pacey onballer Ash Cowen and midfielder Mike Stevens both suffering injuries.
Stawell then endured a tough fortnight, with matches against Warrack Eagles and Horsham resulting in 64 and 127 point losses.
The Horsham game was particularly hard for Stawell, who by this stage had to dip into their reserves to cover the losses of Stevens, Cowen, Brenton Potter, Blair Hart and Nick Thomas.
A week later Stawell travelled to Ararat to play their arch enemy and things didn't get any better, with inefficient ball use letting Warriors down in the eventual nine point loss.
The interleague break couldn't come at a better time for Warriors, with coach Andrew Bach frustrated by poor talk, discipline and protection among his players.
Following five losses in a row, Stawell finally broke through with their second win for the season against Horsham RSL Diggers.
It was a top three quarter effort, with Tom Eckel stepping up and playing well through the midfield and Blair Hart played a pivotal role in defence.
Unfortunately Stawell couldn't string together two wins in a row as the following week, an eight quarter blitz by Saints saw the Warriors go down by 64 points.
Injuries to forward Joel Freeland and ruckman Jorah Margetson didn't help Warriors cause, with Scott Nicholson and Shane Field slotting into those roles to cover the losses.
Stawell then made the trek to Nhill and were impressive, coming away with a 46-point victory.
When Warriors used the ball well and stuck to the three main objectives - talk, protection and manning up, the results were good passages of play.
Nick Thomas proved to be a real leader on the field while Zac Marrow and Tom O'Neill stood up from the under 17 side and contributed.
Justin Eales was instrumental week in, week out with his quality skills through the midfield.
Stawell's season didn't get any better, recording an 181-point loss to Horsham and coach Andrew Bach announced he was stepping down due to family and work commitments.
Warriors made up for the disastrous loss a week later, exacting revenge on Ararat to the tune of 62 points, in what was their best win for the season.
Missing a host of players yet again, they went down to Minyip Murtoa and Dimboola before finishing the season on a high with a 74-point victory against Diggers.
Best win: Ararat, round 14, by 62 points at Central Park, Stawell.
After suffering a couple of bad losses, Stawell was desperate for a win against their arch rivals.
In front of a larger than usual crowd, Stawell claimed victory in style with a stunning four quarter performance that saw Warriors down the Rats by over 10 goals.
Shane Field was a stand out with a best on ground performance in the ruck, while Scott Nicholson was the main focal point down forward and booted five goals.
Bach said the second round win against the Rats kept the team together and boosted Stawell's confidence for the remaining games.
Worst loss: Dimboola, round 17, by 152 points at Dimboola Recreation Reserve.
Stawell's season didn't get easier when the Warriors travelled to Dimboola to face the in-form Roos. The Roos raced to a 36-point lead at quarter time and did not let up, outclassing Stawell all over the ground.
Seven final quarter goals to Dimboola saw them come away with the percentage boosting victory.
"It was easily our worst game for the year. The bigger Dimboola bodies proved too strong for our young side, caught us off guard and put us off our game. It was a terrible day for us," Bach said.
For the full interview with outgoing Stawell coach Andrew Bach, see today's edition of The Stawell Times-News.