Bacchus Marsh has jumped to third with a tense one-goal win, while Redan joined a congested mid-table pack after an influential round in the Ballarat Football Netball League.
North Ballarat remains clear at the top, waltzing past Melton South, while Melton remains close behind, having survived a scare against the Swans.
The stage is set for a dramatic second half of the season, with fourth-placed East Point right through to Lake Wendouree in eighth, all sharing 16 points.
Cobras come back strong
A depleted Bacchus Marsh was pushed to the edge by Sebastopol and had to come from behind to secure a critical 8.7 (55) to 7.7 (49) win.
Trailing by a goal at half-time, Tom German's charges had a third-quarter output of 4.0 while restricting the Burra to a lone goal to swing the match in their favour.
Alex Schwarzenberg and Rylan Porter stepped up in the absence of the host's key forwards, each kicking two goals.
The result sees Bacchus Marsh jump from sixth to third, four points clear of the chasing pack.
Sebastopol next plays Ballarat with points crucial in what's shaping to be a tense season.
Bacchus Marsh FNC 2.3, 4.5, 8.5, 8.7 (55)
Sebastopol FNC 3.0, 5.5, 6.5, 7.7 (49)
GOALS, Bacchus Marsh FNC : Rylan Porter 2, Alex Schwarzenberg 2, Nicholas Stuhldreier 1, Thomas Wardell 1, Daniel Burton 1, Logan Blundell 1
Sebastopol FNC : Toby Hutt 2, Matt Austin 2, Liam Stow 1, Bailey Medwell 1, James Keeble 1
BEST, Bacchus Marsh FNC : Thomas German, Thomas Wardell, Lachlan Christopher, Billy Griffiths, Connor Tangey, Nicholas Stuhldreier
Sebastopol FNC : Riley O'Keefe, Nicholas Hausler, Benjamin Trew, Hugo Papst, James Keeble, Bailey Medwell
Lions find late drive
Three final-quarter goals were enough for Redan to break the shackles in a cagey affair and secure a vital 5.8 (38) to 2.5 (17) win.
The sides were greeted by a soft City Oval and fitful rain, setting the stage for the skill errors and loose-ball scraps that would define the contest.
Redan was able to find the game's first goal 20 minutes into the opening term, thanks to a Lachie George snap.
A solid defensive performance kept the visitors scoreless in the first quarter and for much of the second until two late majors handed Sunbury the lead.
A long Redan drought was duly broken again by Lachie George, who snuck a set shot in from a tight angle late in the third term.
Jarrett Giampaolo's defence restricted the hosts to just four behinds in the second half, with a late scoring flurry from the hosts confirming a deserved win.
Redan stays seventh on the ladder but joins East Point, Sebastopol, Ballarat and Lake Wendouree on 16 points.
Redan FNC 1.4, 1.5, 2.6, 5.8 (38)
Sunbury FNC 0.0, 2.1, 2.3, 2.5 (17)
GOALS, Redan FNC : Lachlan George 2, Grant Bell 2, Blake Thomson 1
Sunbury FNC : Jake Sutton 1, Corey Mobilio 1
BEST, Redan FNC : Keenan Waterbury, William Madden, Daniel Bond, Cooper Craig-Peters, Flynn Atchison, Lachlan McLean
Sunbury FNC : Tyson Lever, Luke Goater, Daniel Toman, James Cree, Riley Miller, Harry Power
Bloods survive Swans scare
Melton survived a spirited Ballarat fightback to celebrate its first win since the lockdown.
A captain's performance from Braedan Kight (three goals) led the way as the hosts ran out 7.9 (51) to 6.8 (44) victors.
The Bloods started the game dominantly, kicking three goals and restricting the Swans to just one point, but were soon clawed back.
Ballarat's 2.6 second quarter cut the deficit down to one goal at half-time.
Neither side managed to get away as the minutes ticked by, with the conditions making for a scrappy contest.
Andrew Hopper continued his hot run of form, kicking five goals for the Swans.
Despite losing, Ballarat remains in the top six thanks to its positive percentage. Melton will host Lake Wendouree next weekend with a win set to move the Bloods just four points off North Ballarat at the top of the ladder.
Melton FNC 3.1, 3.3, 5.8, 7.9 (51)
Ballarat FNC 0.1, 2.7, 3.7, 6.8 (44)
GOALS, Melton FNC : Braedan Kight 3, Luke Heaney 2, Lachlan Watkins 1, Jack Walker 1
Ballarat FNC : Andrew Hooper 5, Jake Dunne 1
BEST, Melton FNC : Ben Archard, Jordyn Cotter, Jack Walker, Bailey Mawson, Riley Walker, Luke Heaney
Ballarat FNC : Mitchell Martin, Luke Wynd, Nicholas Weightman, William Garner, Samuel Fisher, Sam James
Lakers return to form
Lake Wendouree has bounced back in style to record a 34-point win and keep Darley longing for a first win of the season.
The Devils showed potential, coming back from a three-goal deficit at the end of the opening quarter to bring the game to within 11 points at half-time.
Lake Wendouree needed to respond, and that they did, drawing away in a dominant second half.
Callum McKay bagged a game-high three goals, while Joel O'Connell chipped in with two in a best-on-ground performance.
The win propels Dale Power's side into the finals logjam. However, the Lakers' early-season thumpings see them the furthest back with a low percentage.
Lake Wendouree FNC 3.4, 4.6, 7.7, 11.9 (75)
Darley FNC 1.1, 3.3, 3.4, 6.5 (41)
GOALS, Lake Wendouree FNC : Callum Mc Kay 3, Joel O'Connell 2, Ashley Simpson 2, Thomas Le Lievre 1, Jacob Coxall 1, Joshua Bibby 1,
Jacob Lohmann 1
Darley FNC : Will Johnson 3, Mitchell Banner 2, Jake Ancrum 1
BEST, Lake Wendouree FNC : Joel O'Connell, Brayden Helyar, Caleb Hepworth, Nicholas Rippon, Angus Gove, Joshua Bibby
Darley FNC : Shane Page, Matthew Brett, Will Johnson, Darren Leonard, Luther Baker, Bailey Young
Roosters assert dominance
North Ballarat exploded in the third quarter to enter the bye at the peak of its confidence after an 81-point dismantling of Melton South.
The league leaders kicked 10 goals in the third term en route to a 20.12 (132) to 7.9 (51) away win.
Jack Riding, Jamie Quick and Tom Hotchin led the way in a new-look attacking unit, each bagging three goals apiece.
The loss resigns Melton South to second-to-last on the ladder, though Heath Pritchard's group remains four points off a finals spot.
However, with games against East Point and Sebastopol on the horizon, the mountain is getting slightly bigger for the Panthers.
North Ballarat FNC 3.4, 5.7, 15.11, 20.12 (132)
Melton South FNC 2.0, 4.5, 6.6, 7.9 (17)
GOALS, North Ballarat FNC : Jack Riding 3, Jamie Quick 3, Thomas Hotchin 3, Cameron McCallum 2, Samuel Artz 2, Daniel Jones 2, Riley Polkinghorne, Darcy McEldrew, Fletcher Toose, Brock Leonard, Fletcher Loader
Melton South FNC : Dylan Conway 3, Cody Chapman 1, Ryan Pendelbury 1, Matthew Notman 1, Jarrod Bibby 1
BEST, North Ballarat FNC : Harry Loader, Riley Polkinghorne, Cameon McCallum, Thomas Hotchin, Tom Bromley-Lynch, Elliot Lamb
Melton South FNC : Anthony Anastasio, Ryan Pendlebury, Rhys Lee, Billy Lloyd, Cody Chapman, Jack Morrissey
North Ballarat 7, 1, 28pts
Melton, 6, 2,24pts
Bacchus Marsh, 5, 3, 20pts
East Point, 4, 4, 16 pts
Sebastopol, 4, 4, 16pts
Ballarat, 4, 5, 16pts
Redan, 4,4, 16pts
Lake Wendouree, 4,4, 16 pts
Sunbury, 3,5, 12pts
Melton South, 3, 4, 12pts
Darley, 0,8 12pts
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