Stawell Warriors were outmanoeuvred by Southern Mallee Giants, as both teams stepped onto the field for the first time in the 2019 season.
In the Wimmera Football League's round one clash, the Giants ran out the fourth term claiming the win by 32 points, 12.11 (83) to 7.9 (51).
In a see-sawing first half, the Giants held the Warriors goalless in the first term, only to go on to kick five points themselves in the second.
Warriors rose to the occasion from quarter time when returning player Tom Eckel and new recruit Jay Moody kicked two goals each.
"It was a defensively tough game and it was hard to score," Warriors coach Damian Joiner said.
"We got jumped in the first quarter but were able to wrestle the game back. They were beating us to the ball and they were pumping us around the clearances and stoppages.
"We started to work harder - more run through the midfield and linking up."
Joiner said the message at quarter time was about playing to the Warriors own game plan.
"We started implementing our game plan and the game swung onto our terms," he said.
"Once that happened we started to get on top and play some good football."
The Warriors went into half time, three points down.
"We really lifted our game with the contested footy," Joiner said.
"I think we matched them and got on top in some parts of the game."
Warriors managed two goals to three in the third term, with the Giants in front by 10 at three-quarter time.
"There's plenty of room for improvement. We played some good footy but I think we were running in second gear," he said.
"A let down was only playing two-quarters of football against quality teams, you're not going to get close to them. Moving forward we will look at playing a more consistent brand of football for four quarters."
Joiner said looking towards the iconic match of Good Friday there will be some parts of Saturday's game he will focus on.
"At training, we will work on what we need to, developing strategies to get the game on our terms," he said.
"If we can work on our strengths we are confident we can burn teams off. We will just entrench what we went over in pre-season and make it become second nature to the team."
Tom Eckel and Sean Mantell were named in the best for the game while Joiner said Jackson Dark's battle with the Giants full forward was good to watch.
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