A massive nine-goal final term has propelled the North Ballarat Rebels into the TAC Cup top four, beating the Northern Knights by 50 points at Eureka Stadium.
The lacklustre Rebels struggled to keep up with the visitors in the opening moments of the fixture as the Knights reeled off four unanswered goals to open up a comfortable lead.
However some impressive inside work from the likes of Hugh McCluggage and Willem Drew allowed the Rebels to hit back, closing the margin to eight points at the first change.
Despite the Rebels kicking with the breeze in the second term it was again the Knights who were able to draw first blood.
But the reinvigorated Rebels refused to go away, with Jake McQueen and Lloyd Meek working hard in the midfield to force the issue. A courageous smother from Drew allowed the hosts to hit up Shannon Beks inside 50 as the Rebels hit the lead midway through the second term.
While Matthew Harman continued to cause headaches for the Rebels with his pace, an electrifying goal on the run for Jarrod Berry from outside 50 allowed to Rebels to take the lead into the half.
The lead continued to see-saw in the third term as neither side were able to cement themselves as the front-runners. Some sloppy skill errors from North Ballarat allowed the Knights to stay in contention as the Rebels took a narrow four-point buffer into the final change.
However it was the grit and skill of the Rebels’ midfield which proved to be the difference in the final quarter. Despite the Northern Knights again getting the first goal of the term, efficient ball use from McCluggage and Berry allowed the Rebels to find forward targets at crucial times.
The visitors struggled to make a dent in the Rebels’ organised defensive structures as the hosts hammered home seven unanswered goals to deliver the knock-out blow.
The Rebels will take their place in the top four after the fourth-placed Sandringham Dragons fell short of the Oakleigh Chargers. With two rounds remaining before finals, the Rebels are well placed to earn a double chance.
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