While any win is welcome, Ballarat coach Joe Carmody knows his side needs to start putting matches to bed earlier if they want to be a main challenger in the premiership fight.
Jack Blackburn was the hero for the Swans, kicking a goal in the final minute to steal a one-point win against Sunbury; his club's first at Clarke Oval since the Lions' move to the league in 1997.
It is the second time this season Blackburn has proved the winner in the dying minutes, having kicked the winner in six-point win against Redan back in round four.
Of the Swans' seven wins this season, fives times they have come from behind in the final quarter to take the points.
"It's unbelievable. This year we've got out of jail in the last minute a few times now. It's a good testament that if we keep at it and keep to how we want to play we can eventually get the win," Ballarat coach Joe Carmody said.
"But, we need to start putting in some four quarter performances.
"We need to capitalise when we've got momentum. There's been a few times where had momentum but we've been unable to reflect it on the scoreboard."
WATCH THE MATCH-WINNING GOAL:
Trailing at half-time, the Swans kept the Lions scoreless in the third quarter to set up a dramatic finish.
Sunbury re-gained the lead with 10 minutes to play, but the Swans' relentless pressure finally brought its rewards.
In the 28th minute, Blackburn dove at full stretch to grasp a rushed forward 50 entry and duly finished the set shot from 25 metres out.
"That third quarter set us up. I think it was 15 inside 50s to three but we kicked 2.4. If we had taken more of our opportunities then we could have put a bit more distance on the scoreboard," Carmody said.
"That front-half game is what we're good at it. So getting more of the ball in our front half and keeping it there was really pleasing."
Lachy Dawson drew praise for his work in Ballarat's midfield.
The Swans' win sets up a massive round 12 clash against East Point, with the winner guaranteed to move four points clear in second.
At times it was far from pretty but Bacchus Marsh has kept its finals dreams firmly alive, rising from seventh to fifth with a five-goal win against Lake Wendouree.
Down at quarter-time, the Cobras wrestled their way back into the contest to notch a third-straight victory and move four points clear of their chasers.
"(Lake Wendouree) definitely put on a lot of intensity...they certainly came to play and we probably didn't make enough of our our opportunities in the first quarter," Bacchus Marsh coach Tom German said.
A 2.1 (13) to 0.0 (0) second term was far from a spectacle but it gave the Cobras a lead it never let slip.
Rex Hickman and Aaron Willitts were the hosts' main attacking threats, bagging three goals each.
"I thought we moved the ball really well at times and our backs help up really well," German said.
"Jack Williams was back and he was partnering with Jake Owen down there and that worked well. They gave us really good rebound."
Having been as low as eighth a month ago, the Cobras now enter a round 12 clash with the undefeated Melton a more than handy chance.
"We feel we're in pretty good form but going up against Melton, they're the benchmark team this year, it'll certainly be a test for us," German said.
It was a finals preview ruined by the circumstances, but North Ballarat got the job done, beating Darley by 69 points to earn a one-win buffer in the top six.
With the Roosters three goals up, play was stopped for nearly 40 minutes in the opening quarter and players briefly returned to the changing rooms after a serious injury to Darley teenager Adam Azzopardi.
It's believed Azzopardi, 19, suffered a compound leg fracture when a teammate was pushed from a marking contest and landed horizontally on the fast oncoming Azzopardi's ankle, trapping it, while Azzopardi's full momentum carried him over the top of his teammate.
Trainers from both clubs looked after Azzopardi for around 20 minutes before paramedics later tended to him on the ground for another 10 minutes before he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital.
Darley kicked the first three goals once play resumed to trail 3.3 (21) to 3.2 (20) at quarter-time.
From there the game turned, with North Ballarat's extra man and lack of a mental weight helping them restrict the Devils to only 18 points across the next three quarters.
Josh Chatfield, Jamie Quick and Jack Riding all bagged three goals for the Roosters but it was Harry Loader who proved the difference for the hosts.
Asked to play on Tony Lockett Medal leader Nick Rodda, Loader restricted the spearhead to a lone goal while racking up game-high totals of four spoils and two intercept marks.
Brett Bewley was a tiresome battler for the Devils, finishing the day with 45 disposals (23 contested), 12 clearances, and 10 effective tackles.
Darley has an opportunity to respond at home next weekend against Melton South while the North Ballarat has a bye.
Melton has further compounded an injury-ravaged Sebastopol's woes, running over the Burra by 41 points to notch its 10th-consecutive win.
With only nine points separating the sides at the main break, the Bloods drew away with a dominant 6.9 (45) to 2.1 (13) second half.
Braedan Kight played a skipper's hand with three goals while Lachie Watkins, playing his first game back from injury, stepped up in midfield in the absence of Jack Walker.
Reigning Henderson Medallist Lachie Cassidy was immense for Sebastopol in his return from a nine-week injury lay-off.
Cassidy (two goals) was the Burra's only multiple goalkicker while also leading his side for disposals (28), effective tackles (9) and clearances (7).
The Bloods hosts Bacchus Marsh in round 12 while Sebastopol is away to Redan.
A season-high four goal haul for midfielder Jackson Merrett was the highlight as East Point held on to second place with a 45-point win against Redan.
The two foes were evenly matched early, with the Roos' only able to eek a one-point lead at the first break into an 11-point buffer at half-time.
Come the third term, the hosts found their feet with not even a 4.6 return diminishing their control on the game.
Swung forward, Mitch Walsh kicked three goals, while Bryson McDougall also bagged three.
The Roos travel to play Ballarat next weekend with second place on the line.
Redan hosts Sebastopol.
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