Sunday's 10-point loss to the Murray Bushrangers eptiomised the Bendigo Pioneers' NAB League season.
The effort was excellent, the team had a chance to win, but ultimately fell short.
The Bushrangers won 9.7 (61) to 7.9 (51) in a hard-fought contest in Mildura.
"If it wasn't even, we were in front for most of the day, but in the last few minutes the Bushrangers kicked a couple of goals,'' Pioneers' coach Danny O'Bree said.
"We made some critial mistakes at critical times - that was the difference.
"We were super proud of the effort. There would have a been a lot of our kids that learned a lot from today's experience.
"Hopefully, it's an experience that keeps pushing us forward."
Three of the Pioneers' more experienced players were named best.
"Harley Reid played in a new role off half-back for three quarters and he was really good.
"Bode Stevens was unbelievable. He made a couple of errors, but his physicality and experience was really important.
"We threw Malik Gordon on the ball for most of the match and he did a good job."
Nash Dignan and Charlie Hillier (two goals) were also among the Pioneers' better players.
Despite the result, O'Bree said playing a home game in Mildura was a success for the club.
"The facilities are really good and the ground was sensational,'' he said.
"The Sunraysia-based players and their families were terrific and the local footy community turned up to support us... we had quite a good crowd.
"It's something we'll look to do again next year."
The Pioneers' next NAB League game is against Tasmania on Sunday, June 26, at Highgate Recreation Reserve in Melbourne.
Bendigo Pioneers 2.2 4.4 6.6 7.9 (51) lt Murray Bushrangers 1.2 3.4 6.6 9.7 (61)
Goals - Bendigo: Hillier 2, Gordon, Reid, Stevens, O'Shannessy, Mezzatesta.
Best - Bendigo: Reid, Gordon, Stevens, Dignan, Hillier, Worme.
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