NORTH BALLARAT 13.8 (86)
MURRAY 12.8 (80)
CONTROL was see-sawing but North Ballarat Rebels coach David Loader said his team simply found a way to win in the end.
They found their way to securing a six-point victory against Murray - the Rebels' fifth consecutive win in TAC Cup under-18s - when ruckman Rowan Marshall was planted in the goal square.
Marshall went to full forward and reeled in three marks for three goals at Craigieburn on Saturday.
This was Marshall's first game back from an ankle sprain and puts him back in contention for another Vic Country call up in a fortnight's time.
Murray Bushrangers traditionally boast a strong outfit and had beaten the Rebels by 39 points in round three.
Defeating the Bushrangers has given the Rebels a one-game buffer safe inside the top-eight.
Loader said the match itself was a good, tough hit-out for his players.
"Certainly the last five rounds of footy have been pretty good and the challenge now is to see if we can keep that up," Loader said.
"This was such a big game for us - the Bushrangers are equal with us on the ladder.
"They always test us, they're a really physical side.
"We had good patches and patched we could have played better."
The Rebels started slowly in the competition's return from a development weekend and were a little sloppy with the ball.
By half-time, the Bushrangers had pushed out to a 20-point lead.
Loader said his team had slipped away from its focus.
The Rebels clawed back in front by three-points at the final break before the Bushrangers pushed ahead again - then Marshall made his move.
Defender Oscar McDonald was clear best-on-ground, taking 11 marks in the back lines.
McDonald spent some time nullifying the Bushrangers' Vic Country forward Joshua Schache, who booted three goals.
Consistent performers Josh Webster and Jesse Palmer were solid contributors again while Keegan Mason also impressed.
Loader was also pleased with Rebels debutants Sam McClure (Edenhope-Apsley) and Liam Horwarth (South Warrnambool), who he said showed great scope for future development and were involved in a couple of handy plays.
The Rebels have a big three weeks ahead, hosting top-four contenders Dandenong and Western Jets before travelling to host Geelong Falcons.
They return home to Eureka Stadium to meet Dandenong on Sunday in a curtain raiser for North Ballarat Roosters' Victorian Football League clash against a relaunched Richmond.