NORTH Ballarat scrapped its way past a determined Frankston on a monumental day in VFA/VFL history when a win was more than four premiership points for the Roosters at Eureka Stadium on Sunday.
The Selkirk Roosters fell in by five points after giving up a 25-point lead from late in the third quarter.
Curiously this was the same margin Frankston had over North Ballarat in the opening term.
Frankston had all the run when it hit the lead by one point approaching time-on in the last term, with big marking Dolphin forward Khan Haretaku unstoppable as he added two goals in quick succession.
It took all the fight North Ballarat had in a tense last 10 minutes to firstly regain the lead via the boot of Jordan Staley and then hold it in a pressure-pack
Head coach Gerard FitzGerald said it had been an important outcome as the Roosters rebuilt their season after a slow start.
“It was a gutsy effort.”
After losing its first four matches, North Ballarat has now strung together two victories and now faces a hapless Bendigo Gold, giving it a real opportunity to keep the run going.
FitzGerald, reflecting on two great eras he had overseen at North Ballarat in his 314-game coaching career in the VFL – grand final appearances in 1999-2000 and three premierships in 2008-09-10 – said he could see good signs for the future.
“It’s exciting to see where we’re going.”
While FitzGerald said once the game was under way, he put away the VFA/VFL record celebration and put his full focus on the task at hand – winning – it was clear the significance of the day was never too far out of mind.
“It was a terrific day,” he told a packed clubroom post-match while thanked all those who provided best wishes and support.
FitzGerald also reflected on the similarity of the win over Frankston and his first game in charge of the Roosters, in which they defeated Preston by less than goal.
North Ballarat had to do it the hard way.
Frankston jumped away early and it was Staley who kicked the Roosters’ first goal and his first of four after 18 minutes.
North Ballarat clawed its way back in the third term and appeared well in control with Lucas Cook solid in defence, and Nick Peters, Liam Anthony and Nick Rippon getting plenty of the football.
Turnovers were a major worry for each team all day and they threatened to bring the Roosters undone as Frankston refound its running game and did not allow the home team to maintain the poise it required.
In the end it was North Ballarat’s weight of possessions, which was just enough.