ECHUCA United has just seven days to recover from one of its worst defeats on record to remain a viable contender in the 2017 Murray Football League finals.
And Numurkah’s astonishing 139-point massacre of United has surely launched it into flag favouritism after Moama accounted for Nathalia by 11 points in the final home and away game of the season.
A flat United was left searching for answers at Numurkah, run off its feet in a game played at breakneck speed.
And a speed the Eagles could not seem to match, down at quarter-time 3.6 (24) to 0.3 (3).
This fatal first quarter was the first time all year that Echuca has been held goalless to quarter-time.
Young up and coming key defender Bailey Sawyer started well before being crunched late in the first quarter, coming off the ground in the hands of the trainers.
Sawyer was later admitted to hospital with a suspected slight tear of his lungs, but was given the all clear later that night.
The only good news for the Eagles is sidelined players including Marcus Roberts, Zac Mihocek, Clayton Zanella and Luke Sanderson are all eyeing possible returns in a make-or-break final on Saturday.
The half-time scorecard showed a 63-point deficit for the Eagles and coach Guy Campbell did his best to ‘rev-up’ his side at the long break, challenging his men to push on diligently.
Although the scoreboard didn’t show it, the third quarter improved for the flailing Eagles, seemingly upping the ante before finally getting some reward for effort through the boot of Kyle Armstrong, who registered their first and only major of the game.
Liam Gundry and Mitch Lourey slotted into the side for their respective first senior games of the season and neither could be faulted for their work-rate against a quality opposition, which held United to its lowest total score on record, final results being 22.17 (149) to 1.4 (10).
“Today we played the top side and saw every reason why they’re the top side,” Campbell said post-game.
“But we can’t dwell on it (the loss) as we have a final to play next week.”
After winning 12 games this season (nine more than 2016) United has booked itself an elimination final berth against Barooga, a team it conquered earlier in the season.
If Campbell can put his team’s confidence back together during the week it could be one of the biggest comebacks since Lazarus.