A strong final term has propelled the North Ballarat Rebels to their second win of the season, defeating the Murray Bushrangers by 18 points at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday.
In a high-intensity affair from start to finish, it simply became a matter of which team could sustain its energy for four quarters.
In the end, it was the Rebels.
Leading by just seven points at the final break, and with the Bushrangers breathing down their necks, the Rebels lifted in the midfield and kicked the opening two goals of the last quarter.
Murray responded, but the Rebels’ defence – led superbly by Connor Byrne - refused to concede victory.
It was an excellent team effort from the Rebels, who were simply too tough and too desperate.
The win was even more impressive considering that Jarrod Berry sustained a concussion midway through the final term.
The fleet-footed utility, who up until that stage was one of the Rebels’ best players, copped a heavy knock and was stretchered off the field.
Among those were defenders Josh Webster and Angus Cleary, midfielder Tom Templeton and young tall Lloyd Meek, all of whom continued on from their impressive performances last week.
Coach David Loader praised his team for the way in which they handled the pressure of the game, particularly after Murray kicked the last three goals heading into three quarter time.
“The boys never backed away from the challenges that were being thrown at them,” Loader said.
“There was a lot of talk of ‘here we come, here we come’ from the Murray boys and our guys just took a deep breath and said ‘you’re not getting this one off us’.
“They stood up and were really accountable in the last quarter.”
Loader also made mention of the tenacity of the contest, crediting his players for their ability to win a bruising game of football.
“The game is getting more and more physical every week it seems,” he said.
“It was an outstanding game for contested ball and numbers around the footy. While it probably wasn’t a spectacle so much for a lot of people – it was fast, it was tough, it was hard and it was contested all day.
“It was a pretty brutal encounter, but one that the Ballarat boys stood up in.”
The fourth-placed Rebels will now enjoy a week off to recuperate and recover, before coming up against the Calder Cannons in two weeks’ time.
North Ballarat Rebels 1.4.10, 5.8.38, 9.10.64, 13.13 (91)
Murray Bushrangers 1.1.7, 3.3.21, 8.9.57, 10.13 (73)
NORTH BALLARAT REBELS
Goal Kickers: E.Frank 4, N.Hausler 2, T.Templeton, L.Meek, M.Johnston, C.Wellings, J.Symons, T.Taurau, C.Lee
Best Players: C.Byrne, J.Berry, A.Cleary, L.Meek, J.Symons, T.Templeton
Goal Kickers: J. Simpkin 2, J. Minogue 2, A. Tattersall , M. Waite , J. Marshall , L. Tiziani , M. Canfield , L. Middleton
Best Players: , L. Tiziani , M. Canfield , J. Simpkin , W. Brodie , R. Garthwaite , J. Battista