THE Western Jets were made to pay for untidy football at certain times in their 23-point loss to Sandringham Dragons in the TAC Cup season opener at Visy Park on Sunday.
The Jets’ endeavour could not be faulted and there were early periods when they even dominated the contest.
However, careless errors at crucial times gave the Dragons the ascendancy and they needed no second invitation to run away with the game.
“It was not the start we were looking for,” Jets region manager Shane Sexton said.
“But there were positives in the game that we can take away.
“We can go away and work on a few things and be better because of it.
“We just made too many mistakes and you can put it down to that. Decisions with the ball and without the ball . . . some of them were pretty costly.”
The Jets, coached by Torin Baker for the first time, made all the early running.
A goal to Omar Abou-Zeid and two more to Harrison King had them right on top.
King’s early dominance had alarm bells ringing in the Dragons’ coaches box.
“His first half was excellent and he had a good game,” Sexton said. “He plays predominantly as a lead-up forward, really good overhead and his practice matches have all been good.
“They put the clamps on him after half-time and that made it a bit more difficult for him.”
The Jets had nothing to show for their fast start, trailing by five points at the first break.
The second term was an anomaly in the match as the Dragons booted five of the six goals for the quarter to take a 34-point lead into half-time.
Try as they might, the Jets could not erode the hefty deficit, with the 30-minute second quarter black-out ultimately costing the Jets.
Daniel O’Leary was named best on ground for the Jets. The courageous back pocket did what his coaches asked of him.
“Danny’s a terrific kid, a real competitor,” Sexton said.
“You can trust him to give it 100 per cent and cover off his man. He was pretty solid today without a doubt.”
The will-o’-the-wisp Mitch Norton made an impressive debut at the level.
The lightly-built forward pocket snared two goals to show his smarts near the big sticks.
“He’s a very clever player, exhibits a lot of class,” Sexton said.
Ruckman Duom Dawam got his hands on the ball first with regularity at the bounce-downs, while onballer Jake Greiser did a lot of fishing beneath the packs to offer first use to the outside runners.
The Jets are eager to avoid a repeat of last year’s slow start to the season and will be desperate to get into the winners’ circle against the Northern Knights in the early 10am game on Sunday at Visy Park.
“It’s a big week next week,” Sexton said. “We don’t want to get left too far behind.”
Sandringham Dragons 16.9 (105) d Western Jets 12.10 (82).
Western Jets — goals: H. King 3, P. Manivong, M. Norton 2, O. Abou-Zeid, D. Burton, M. Orr, B. Ferrari, J. Greiser. Best: D. O’Leary, M. Norton, H. King, J. Greiser, D. Iaccarino, B. Bewley.