Bacchus Marsh coach Tom German feels momentum is building after his new-look group jumped up the ladder with a nervy one-goal win against fellow finals hopeful Sebastopol.
Missing star brothers Jaidyn and Jake Owen, due to the latter's wedding, and with key forward Aaron Willitts still injured, the hosts called on all levels of their club and blooded three debutants.
The result was the affectionately-dubbed "Baby Cobras", who ground out a gutsy 8.7 (55) to 7.7 (49) win in testing conditions.
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German said it was a credit to his players to hold out for a second one-kick win in as many weeks.
"We had three first-gamers come in and a number of others that had probably played less than 10 games as well. So, in that sense it was a real positive," he said.
"If you finish on the other side of those (tight) results it can really deflate you. But to get the results the past two weeks it shows we've built on what we wanted to work on."
Bacchus Marsh had the wind at its back to start but failed to capitalise, falliing to a three-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
The Burra continued to mount the pressure, with Toby Hutt and Matt Austin (two goals each) causing trouble as the visitors took a one-goal lead into the half-time break.
Bacchus Marsh was able to break free in the third quarter, kicking four goals to swing the game in its favour.
A dour final quarter followed, both sides combining for just 10 points, but the damage had already been done for the hosts.
"It was a game of territory in the end and we were able to prevent a bit of their run," German said.
"(We did) the one percenters right and won it really well in the contests in the middle."
The win sees the Cobras jump from six to third, ahead of a congested chasing pack.
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 a step closer to consistency
Redan joined the chorus of clubs fighting for a finals spot by withstanding the weather and a spirited Sunbury outfit to record a vital 21-point win.
In a game defined by contests and determination, Redan found the final-quarter lift they needed to etch out a 5.8 (38) to 2.5 (17) victory.
For coach Jarrett Giampaolo, it was a much needed result.
"We played pretty well throughout the game but it was just a grind," he said.
"There would have been 100 stoppages so it was just whoever could tough it out for the longest.
"The last quarter we sort of broke it aparat and were able to bag a couple of goals and it was game over.
"Us and Sunbury are probably pushing for the same finals spot, so it was good to get a gap on them."
Lachie George and Grant Bell were the hosts' main threats in attack, bagging two goals each, while backman Keenan Waterbury impressed in a best-on-ground performance.
"They kicked two goals in the second quarter and that was it for the rest of the game. That's a feather in the cap of our defence," Giampaolo said.
The Lions leader said the gutsy win was a step closer to his group finding the consistent performances that have evaded them at times.
"You can't win games with just one quarter," Giampaolo said.
"We're trying to get two-to-three good quarters together and on Saturday we probably did that.
"Once you start to get that together you start to win games. It's all good to have talent but talent doesn't get you anywhere until you actually win contested footy.
"(On Saturday) we put it on a few of our young blokes to lift and they really did."
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
Lakers' attack pleasing coach
Lake Wendouree returned to form in dominant fashion, holding on by 34 points to keep Darley longing for a first win of the season.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, with a strong second quarter showing from the Devils demanding the best from the hosts.
The Lakers stood up, however, and never faltered, with Callum McKay kicking three goals and Joel O'Connell contributing with two majors in a best-on-ground performance.
Lake Wendouree coach Dale Power said it was a positive display from his side.
"We were really strong around the contests and managed to get on top across the day in the clearances," he said.
"We don't have a dominant ruckman, nor did Darley really, so it was a good battle in there.
"We got some good balls into our forwards, especially in the third quarter, and we were able to put pressure on Darley deep in its backline.
"We had good tackle pressure inside 50 and we looked threatening for a lot of the day, so that was pleasing."
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 run riot against Panthers
A major forward line shake-up wasn't any roadblock for the pacesetting North Ballarat, who displayed its dominance in full during an 81-point win against Melton South.
The league leaders kicked 10 goals in the third term to secure to a 20.12 (132) to 7.9 (51) away win and enter next weekend's bye at the peak of their confidence.
In the absence of Josh Chatfield (kidney) and Sam Glover (hamstring), it fell to Jack Riding, Tom Hotchin, and Jamie Quick to lead the Roosters' attack.
The trio stood up to the task, bagging three goals each.
Having escaped suspension at a last-minute tribunal hearing, Riley Polkinghorne proved an influential force in the middle of the park.
The 19-year-old was named North Ballarat's second-best.
The loss resigns Melton South to second-to-last on the ladder, though the Panthers only remain four points off a finals spot.
However, with games against East Point and Sebastopol on the horizon, the mountain is getting slightly bigger for Heath Pritchard's men.
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
Bloods steadfast despite late scare
Melton survived a late comeback to ensure its return home for the first time since lockdown was a victorious one.
A captain's showing from Braedan Kight (three goal) led the charge, while midfielder Jack Walker strengthened his Henderson Medal case in a bold 7.9 (51) to 6.8 (44) win against Ballarat.
The Bloods started strong, restricting the Swans to just one point in the opening quarter and kicking three goals of their own.
The match soon swung with the weather, with Andrew Hooper leading the visitors' charge.
Ballarat's 2.6 second quarter cut the deficit down to one goal at half-time.
Neither side managed to get away as the game slugged on, with the conditions making for a scrappy contest.
Hooper remained a threat in attack and finished the day with five goals to his name.
Ultimately, Melton did enough to assert themselves at the right end of the ladder.
The Bloods are still eight points behind North Ballarat, but could that deficit to four with a win against Lake Wendouree next weekend by virtue of the Roosters having the bye.
Despite losing, Ballarat remains in the top six ahead of a big contest against Sebastopol.
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
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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