NEWCASTLE City coach Tim Cotter has urged the Blues to be brave if they want to defend the Hunter Central Coast Black Diamond Cup.
City went down 15.3 (93) to 6.8 (44) to Terrigal Avoca in the top-of-the table clash at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday.
With one round remaining, the Panthers have a stranglehold on the minor premiership. The way the finals are set up, if City are to tackle Terrigal again it will be in the grand final.
"The game plan I am trying to play is quite brave and you have to take on kicks which are high risk, but if they come off they work very well for us," Cotter said. "With a very young side, when under pressure they they take the easy option. Terrigal just gobble that up. They are well structured with tall players and we kept kicking it into them. We are not going to win if we don't be brave and kick the way we need to play."
Played in gale force conditions, Terrigal led by five points at quarter time, before kicking four goals in the second term to open a 23-point advantage at the main break.
Josh Polglase added another for the Panthers early in third quarter, before the Blues kicked into gear to close the gap to two points.
"I gave them a bit of a rocket at half-time, which I don't like to do," Cotter said. "I said, we promised each other we would play our way. We did in the third quarter and came roaring back. Then, for whatever reason, we moved away from it again. I would have thought our young fit legs might have run over them. But they are momentum side and when they get rolling they are hard to stop."
Terrigal kicked the final two goals in the third quarter and added another six in the final term to blow the score out.
Matt Shortall finished with four majors and Corey Billins grabbed three for Terrigal while Michael Roach and Kurt Fleming were outstanding
"Terrigal played well and deserved the win," Cotter said.
Cotter had praise for veteran defender Luke Rawsley, captain Mitch Knight and makeshift ruckman Ben Ellis.
"Luke Rawsley, with the wind, he was the only bloke who knew where the ball was going to land and picked off plenty of intercept marks," Cotter said. "I had three ruck men out and Ben came in and got us a contest. Mitch Knight put his head over the ball and broke a few tackles but there weren't a lot of great performers."
In other games Saturday, Tim Oosterhoff kicked an incredible 13 goals to lead Killarney Vale to a an emphatic 19.14 (128) to 6.5 (41) victory at Adelaide St Oval.
Alex Mitchell bagged five majors as Singleton disposed of Nelson Bay 18.11 (119) to 7.8 (50) at Burwell Oval.
Luke Roach led the way as Warners Bay held off Wyong Lakes 9.13 (67) to 9.4 (58) at Small Oval.
Cardiff won on a forfeit from Gosford.