The sight of four injured players on the Sandhurst inter-change bench on Sunday summed up the Dragons' season.
From star midfielder Lee Coghlan suffering a season-ending injury in a practice match in March through to Sunday's plethora of injuries in the BFNL elimination final loss to Golden Square, the Dragons didn't have a clean bill of health all year.
Ruckman Chris Down, defender Jake Wilkinson and key forward Matt Thornton were the only players to play in all 19 games. However, Thornton did injure his hamstring in the frst quarter of the elimination final.
After kicking 52 goals in 20 games in 2018, injuries restricted Andrew Collins to 16 goals in just 12 games this year.
The Dragons had five players kick 20 or more goals in 2018, but only two (Thornton 42 and Jake McLean 23) achieved that mark this year.
While frustrated with the run of bad luck, and with Sunday's result, Dragons' coach Ashley Connick saw enough encouraging signs in his first season in charge to have a positive outlook for 2020.
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"We get Lee Coghlan back, we'll get a full pre-season into (key forward) Will Holt and we'll re-load and top up a little bit,'' Connick said.
"There's some great kids coming through and through all the adversity we've seen Jed and Lachy Zimmer take another step with their footy.
"(Defenders) Isaac Ruff and Liam Ireland have stepped up for us and that's helped our depth for next year."
To help close the gap on the likes of Strathfieldsaye and Eaglehawk the Dragons need to build on their midfield depth.
Connick hopes the answer to that problem is right under the Dragons' nose.
"We'll have a real crack at getting (Collingwood VFL-listed player) Lachlan Tardrew full time and we'd love to get (Pioneers graduate) Jeremy Rodi full time as well,'' Connick said.
"Hopefully, Jeremy gets on at least a VFL list, but if he doesn't we'd love to have him here."
Another promising Pioneers' graduate Sean O'Farrell has a bright future with the Dragons, while running defender Ben Worme, who played in Sunday's elimination final loss, is being touted as a potential AFL Draft hopeful.
"The majority of the list has committed for next year, so we're pretty confident with where the club is heading,'' Connick said.
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