YOUTH is warming the hearts of Cobden supporters despite the club enduring a winless start to the season.
The Bombers currently sit last on the ladder with a 0-5 record after losing hundreds of games of experience in the off-season, a position very few clubs would like to find themselves in.
But it’s a situation they have instead chosen to embrace, with senior coach Adam Courtney turning to his younger players to fill the void left by those outgoing players.
So far he has blooded a number of the club’s emerging juniors in the senior grade with the likes of Tarj Anderson (five games), Mitch Reed (four), Jia Anderson (four) and Tomas Lindquist (four) plus others all receiving opportunities.
In return, Courtney has been rewarded with some impressive performances, with his unwavering faith in the club’s youth providing a bright spot on what has so far been a tough period.
“We know it’s tough coming into the Hampden league first year as a 17 or 18 year-old but we’re just rapt with how the kids have responded when they have come up,” he said.
“We’ll just keep an eye on them but some of them, like Mitch Reed and Jia Anderson, have probably exceeded our expectations.
“Mitch has been really clean with the ball and has a strong work rate and Jia has been in a lock down role in the back line and is just really committed to his task and just doesn’t give up.
“Tarj has probably been okay without being outstanding but Jia has had some big jobs and he’s got best on twice.”
The Bombers will enjoy a victory at the selection table this week, with several of the club’s more experienced players set to return over the coming weeks.
Courtney said they would get at least five back this weekend, with a further five set to become available over the next month.
“I’d say three of them will play seniors and two of them will play reserves and Grady Rooke will play his first game for the club in the reserves which is pretty exciting,” he said.
“He is one we’re really missing through the middle, just with his ball use especially off half back or the wing whichever position he’ll play.
“The only one we’ll lose from the weekend (South Warrnambool game) is Billy McGlade.”
The timing of those injury returns could not be sweeter for the Bombers, who are shaping up to host Portland under lights this Saturday.
Both clubs are looking for an elusive first victory, with Courtney confident of his side’s chances ahead of what he said is a stretch of big games.
He said the next month will provide the Bombers with several opportunities to add wins to their tally, given they have games against fellow lowly ranked sides ahead of them.
“I think all the sides down the bottom of the ladder at the moment will probably look at all these games against each other as winnable games,” he said.
“It’s just the fact that they are going to be pretty competitive games (that makes them winnable) and we see this weekend as a really good opportunity especially with them (Portland) coming down at six o’clock at night.
“It’s probably a long day for them with travel and all that but we won’t underestimate them and we understand we’re at the bottom of the ladder at the moment but we’ve got to make sure we respect our opponents.
“Over the next four weeks leading in to the end of the first half of the season hopefully we can maybe get two wins and that’ll do wonders for their confidence.”
Cobden’s open netball side will be looking to extend its stranglehold on the competition when it takes to the court against Portland this Saturday.
The Bombers hold a four point lead on the chasing pack and have an opportunity to further solidify their position on top against the winless Tigers ahead of a grand final rematch with Koroit on June 1.
Cobden holds a slight advantage over Portland, having won the last four matches between the two sides after they drew in round 15, 2016.
The last two encounters have been entirely one-sided affairs, with the Bombers recording 81-35 and 80-15 victories in the home and away season last year.
In division one, the Bombers (fourth) and Tigers (third) will be battling it out for third spot on the ladder, with Portland currently four points and percentage higher than Cobden.
In division two, Cobden (fourth) will be hoping to sneak into the top three with a victory against a winless Portland outfit.
The Bombers will be searching for a second win in division three, while the 17 and under team has a good chance at securing its first win of the year.
The 15 and under side (fifth) will be looking to cement its position in the top five with another victory, while the 13 and under outfit will be hoping to add a third victory to its tally.