Swifts season couldn't have started any worse as they hosted Natimuk in Horsham and District League's round one clash on Saturday.
Swifts got off to a slow start on the scoreboard but found plenty of the ball.
New recruit Ben Leong hobbled across the interchange bench 10 minutes into the first quarter in his first match pulling on a Baggie jumper.
With a suspected sprained ankle, Leong took no further part of the game.
A second blow to the Baggies came about 5min left in the first quarter when mid-fielder Ryan Folkes was on the receiving end of a ferocious tackle from Natimuk coach Sam Anson - knocking his head on the ground.
The midfielder was beginning to find plenty of the football in the latter half of the quarter before being stretchered off as a precautionary measure.
Swifts co-coach Scott Carey said it wasn't the best way to start round one.
"First game of the season you never want to have those kinds of injuries and in the first quarter it makes it tough," he said.
"But that's football, I guess. They were able to hit the scoreboard a bit cleaner than what we could."
Natimuk took advantage of the Swifts slow start 5.3.33 to 1.1.7.
The Baggies rallied at quarter time - with some words from Carey.
"I think there was a bit of a reality check that we were playing football today and the meaning behind the game," he said.
"We started to do the things we spoke about before the game - be first to the ball and to be a bit more physical."
The second quarter delivered some off the ball drama with Jayden Stiles yellow carded, sent off for 15min.
Baggie Chris Schaper dominated the second quarter from the wing.
"He was the spark that really set us alight," Carey said.
"Kicking those couple of goals really lifted the other players."
In an eight goal to one second quarter, Swifts went into the half time break ahead, 9.4.58 to Natimuk 6.5.41.
A tight contest was played out in the third, with five points separating the teams Swifts 10.7.67 to Natimuk 9.8.62. The game set up for a high-intensity final quarter.
In Carey's thee quarter time speech, he reminded his players about their will to perform.
"We talked about it all season, we talked about it before the game and we've talked about it during the game," he said.
"We've worked so hard and now's the time to put everything together and take some action."
The Baggies were left with no rotations by the fourth quarter as Marty Carey also injured.
Swifts ran out of legs as Natimuk dominated, booting five goals to two in the last. Final score 12.11.83 to 17.13.115.
Carey said the group's resilience is something he will take away from the game.
"The way we were able to claw our way back into the game and stay in the game for as long as we were able to is a massive plus," he said.
"Defensively we were able to work hard even though results weren't going our way.
"Without any rotations, the intensity of the first game and heat had an impact on some players."
Carey said a focus for training will be in ball delivery.
"This was noticeable into our forward 50," he said.
"If we were able to execute better, Ben Martin could have had a real day out."
Martin was the leading scorer of the day and kicked five goals for the Baggies.
Carey said the efforts and experience of Adam Leslie were a stand out from the game.
"He might be one of the older fellas on the team but he sure showed some of the younger players how to play," he said.
"His experience and ball handling skills are second to none."
Natimuk coach Sam Anson said he was happy to go away with the win.
"It was a great win by the boys," he said.
"Stawell are a great side, to get one on their turf away from home was really important."
Anson said he thought the team executed the game plan well.
"We wanted to stick to our structures and work to what we've been doing at training," he said.
"We did that for three quarters. Our run and carry was spot on - we've been working a lot on that at training."
Nathan Koenig kicked seven goals for the Rams, a performance Anson said was a standout.
"He kicked the bag while injured so it's a credit to him as well," he said.
"An area we will need to work on is putting a stop to a teams ability to run-on."
The Baggies were missing co-coach Daniel Parkin and recruit Brett Hargreaves due to unavailability in round one but will welcome the players back for round two when they travel to take on Noradjuha-Quantong.
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