The 14.7 (91) to 8.9 (57) victory ensured that the Rebels finished the home-and-away season on top of the TAC Cup ladder, one game clear ahead of the Dandenong Stingrays.
It’s a fitting reward for North Ballarat’s fine performances this season, having only lost on three occasions. It also provides the Rebels with a handy second chance in the upcoming finals series.
The contest against Oakleigh was a fierce one, as the Chargers brought terrific heat early and refused to allow the Rebels to play their instinctive running game.
A slender nine-point lead at quarter time for the Rebels was brought back to just five points at the main break, before being further reduced to only three points by the end of the third term.
It was a different story in the final quarter, however, as the Rebels quickly stepped up a gear and booted six goals to one in an excellent display of football.
Rebels’ captain Darcy Tucker was a standout and continued his impressive late-season form. The running defender used the ball superbly and was noticeably more involved forward of centre than previous weeks.
Rebels’ coach David Loader was pleased with his side’s effort, in particular its strong final term.
“Oakleigh’s a good side – they certainly challenged us,” Loader said.
“We had a little bit of thinking to do at half time. We changed a couple of things around in the third quarter that opened the game up a little bit and it was a line-ball right until the last quarter.
“I felt probably our strong finish was the most pleasing thing to come out of the game.”
Rebels’ star Jacob Hopper was kept relatively quiet for much of the day, but starred in the second quarter when the Chargers were at their most threatening.
Outside midfielders Tom Templeton and Callan Wellings were also strong performers, as was forward Jacob Brown who kicked two goals in his debut for the club.
North Ballarat will now face off against the Geelong Falcons in this weekend’s qualifying final. Geelong defeated the Rebels in the two times they clashed earlier this year.
North Ballarat Rebels
2.4-16, 5.4-34, 8.5-53, 14.7 (91)
1.3-9, 4.5-29, 7.8-50, 8.9 (57)
NORTH BALLARAT REBELS
Goal Kickers: H. McCluggage 2, J. Brown 2, J. Hopper 2, J. Symons, D. Rioli, T. Taurau, J. Korewha, D. Tucker, J. Cowan, M. Johnston, C. Wellings
Best Players: L. Meek, D. Tucker, J. Hopper, T. Templeton, M. Johnston, J. Symons
Goal Kickers: P. Kerr 3, H. Thompson 2, S. Michael, B. Crocker, M. Giles
Best Players: J. Roughsedge, L. Sullivan, H. Hooper, S. Michael, K. Answerth, B. Crocker