The Rebels shrugged off a buoyant Calder Cannons outfit by 26 points in Saturday’s clash at Eureka Stadium, winning 15.11 (101) to 11.9 (75).
A strong opening term was decisive in the result, as the Rebels kicked five goals to one to lead by 24 points at the first change.
Star midfielder Jacob Hopper was dominant in the quarter, using his solid frame to bullock at stoppages and send the ball forward.
However, in what would be a recurring theme for much of the game, Calder found a way back into the contest.
The Cannons upped their pressure and intensity early in the second quarter, and by half time the Rebels’ lead had been cut to just seven points.
A see-sawing third term saw both teams share the momentum, but strong efforts from skilful midfielders Hugh McCluggage and Callan Wellings proved important as the Rebels extended the margin to 14 points at the final change.
Calder once again brought the heat in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter – this time, however, the Rebels were able to absorb its pressure and respond on the scoreboard, kicking away to an important victory.
Rebels’ coach David Loader said it was a pleasing result for his team, but not a consistent performance.
“It was probably a game where we played patches that were really, really good, and then patches where we again stepped away from what we’re trying to do,” Loader said.
“We had 10 minute blocks where we used the ball really well and probably 10 or 15 minute blocks where we went away from using it as well as we could, so there’s still plenty of work to do.
“But to get a win, we’re happy with that.”
Loader said mentioned the importance of being in good form coming into the finals.
“Every week is going to be important,” he said.
“We’ve just got to really fine-tune some stuff. We’re not far away from playing the brand of footy we want to play.
“We’re just tinkering with a few things and we’ll probably do that again next week as we march towards a finals’ campaign.”
North Ballarat will now retain top spot on the TAC Cup ladder for another week, ahead of the Dandenong Stingrays.
In the final round of the competition’s home-and-away season, the Rebels host the Oakleigh Chargers at Eureka Stadium on August 29.
North Ballarat Rebels
5.3-33, 6.6-42, 11.9-75, 15.11 (101)
1.3-9, 5.5-35, 9.7-61, 11.9 (75)
NORTH BALLARAT REBELS
Goal Kickers: M. Johnston 2, J. Wheelahan 2, J. Cowan 2, Y. Eades 2, H. McCluggage 2, J. Symons , J. Hopper , J. Korewha , J. Webster , L. Meek
Best Players: , Y. Eades , H. McCluggage , L. Meek , D. Tucker , M. Johnston , J. Hopper
Goal Kickers: H. Kerbatieh 5, K. Brown 2, C. Moore 2, L. Bramble , M. Lewis
Best Players: , T. Condon , T. Wallis , H. Kerbatieh , K. Brown , T. Burnside , H. Blythe