So close yet still so far. That’s been the story for Leeton-Whitton so far this season as the Crows remain winless after three rounds.
But new coach Sam Darley believes his team’s record doesn’t tell the entire story.
“Other than round two I’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve played,” Darley said.
Coolamon are an elite side when they get going and everyone knows about Wagga Tigers so to play with and match them for extended periods of time was very pleasing.”
In fact, the Crows have found themselves with comfortable early leads in all of their games so far this season but according to Darley, it’s been their inability to sustain that brand of football that has cost them dearly.
“The difference at the moment with us being in games and us losing, is just time that time where you’re not going to be on top,” he said.
That’s fine, that’s understandable and you’re not going to be leading for every moment of every game
But our inability to stop their momentum after five or eight minutes and then have it last the entire quarter is what will stop us from losing games.”
But with a young squad and a new coach, finding ways to establish a winning culture is easier said than done.
As the losses mount, so does Darley’s drive to reward a playing group that has defied expectations, albeit with nothing to show for it yet.
“I’m competitive and we’ve had a tonne of blokes who’ve been around since November onwards that are desperate for a win. Reward for effort is important or it does risk feeling a little draining.”
When it comes to effort, few have put in as many miles (quite literally) as Hayden Cooper, who’s one of a handful of Crows juniors that have impressed so far this season.
“He’s from a rugby union background and played his first games last year in the 17’s.
He’s a tough as nails kid from West Wyalong so he’s always travelling two hours for any games, trainings and at times afterwards he’ll go back and shear with his old man. He was one of our best against Tigers in his first game as a 16 year old, which is pretty impressive.”
It isn’t just the juniors yearning for a drought breaking win.
Bryce O’Garey’s short lived retirement came out a sense of duty for his beloved club, and it’s a debt Darley is keen to repay to his long-time adversary turned trusted teammate.
“It was huge for me to get Bryce back playing.
I played against Bryce when I first started playing junior footy in Tassie. He was established by that stage, and our clubs didn’t like each other so we even had some really good battles down there. I let him do his own thing over the summer and didn’t want to bug him but once he committed it’s no surprise at all how much of a good bloke he is to have around.”
Leeton’s hopes of breaking that winless streak face some tough odds this weekend against Ganmain, but the new coach is confident the wins can come sooner rather than later.
“There’s a three week block coming up against Narrandera, Turvey and Collingullie that we are looking at and if we’re fair dinkum we can definitely win these games.”