The North Ballarat Rebels came from behind in the last quarter to defeat the Sandringham Dragons by 13 points at Ararat’s Alexandra Oval earlier today.
With just five goals kicked between the two sides for the entire game, majors from Tom Taurau and Charlie Lee midway through the final term were enough to get the Rebels across the line for their seventh-straight win.
It was a far from convincing effort by North Ballarat, which registered one goal to three quarter time and struggled with the torrid conditions.
The Rebels were also suffocated by a diligent and hard-working Sandringham outfit, which had clearly entered the game with the intent to deny the Rebels the ball.
Yet, when the contest was still there to be won late in the game, the Rebels had the answers.
Terrific individual efforts from exciting defender Hugh McCluggage and the ever-consistent Josh Webster had a lot to say in the result, with both providing a much-needed spark.
Star midfielder Jacob Hopper, though down on his usual output, was also influential in key moments.
Coach David Loader said his players found a way to turn around a game that appeared set for defeat.
“We wanted to tell the boys to just keep going through what’s worked for us in the past,” he said.
“It was more about sticking to what we had done in the past and holding our structure. Full credit to Sandringham – they were able to tighten the game up and squash us down.
“But once we opened the game up, we looked a lot better in the last 15 minutes.”
It took until halfway through the second quarter for the Rebels to kick their first goal, courtesy of impressive midfielder Tom Templeton.
With the ball akin to a bar of soap, the Rebels continually struggled to grasp the ball cleanly in and around the contest, preventing them from playing the sort of football that has propelled them to the top of the TAC Cup ladder.
Loader said the conditions made it difficult for his players to produce their best.
“It was really tough going,” he said.
“The sun came out a little bit at three quarter time, but the boys were just about exhausted by then.
“It was just so wet and slippery all day that it was hard to play good footy.”
Ruckman Todd Lawrence, who suffered a rolled ankle, was the only injury to come out of the game for North Ballarat.
The Rebels now have another two weeks off before they meet the second-placed Murray Bushrangers at RAMS Arena on June 13.
North Ballarat Rebels
0.4.4, 1.4.10, 1.6.12, 3.9 (27)
0.0.0, 2.2.14, 2.2.14, 2.2 (14)
NORTH BALLARAT REBELS
Goal Kickers: T. Taurau , T. Templeton , C. Lee
Best Players: , H. McCluggage , J. Symons , J. Webster , J. Hopper , A. Cleary , H. Dawborn
Goal Kickers: L. Filipovic , H. Hunt
Best Players: , J. Wallace , R. Hayward , R. Iudica , C. Lyons , M. Clarke , C. Larkin