Rangers gallant in battle with impressive Hawks
READING the signs, Friday night's Barber Cup clash between Springfield and Ipswich Rangers at Woodend looked a potential massacre.
The Hawks won 65-5 last time they met and the cellar-dwelling Rangers appeared in worse health this time around.
The club is in the midst of an injury crisis, with 19 players unavailable across two grades.
It meant they were forced to forfeit the Reserve grade (Pegg Cup) clash with the Hawks to have enough players for the main game.
Amongst the Rangers players before the game there was a sense of resigned acceptance of their likely fate against the second placed Hawks.
But in front of a home crowd Rangers roused themselves to at least put in a credible performance, going down 27-5.
Rangers are particularly short of players in the forwards, where second row Dan Egan and back-rower Nick Vellacott were the only first grade regulars in the pack.
It was Egan's first game since the previous loss to Springfield and he was encouraged by the effort his team produced under the circumstances.
"We seemed a bit better team than we were last time," he said.
"We've got five or six out and the bloke coming in are trying hard.
"But we're obviously a bit off.
"If we got our best team on the park it would be a bit different."
The Hawks led 17-0 at half-time but Egan didn't feel as though his team was ever out of the contest.
The reason was a determined Rangers defence, which made Springfield work hard for their points.
"The best thing I took out of it was we were talking in defence," Egan said.
"They scored two or three tries from close range.
"They're big units who are pretty hard to stop from five or seven metres out.
"It felt a bit better.
"This is probably just one of those down years and you have to ride it out."
Egan admits there will be some tough decisions to be made before next season, about whether Rangers can sustain more than one senior team or, like Goodna, drop to the second division Scotney Cup.