MELTON South has kept its finals hopes alive with seven last-quarter goals to overcome Sebastopol by 31 points in the Ballarat Football League on Saturday.
The Panthers were forced to fight back against the Kookaburras, who jumped out of the blocks with an impressive first half at Marty Busch Reserve.
Melton South coach Shane Geddes had described the match as a danger game, despite Sebastopol's lowly position on the ladder.
"We knew Sebas would come out pretty hard and we couldn't get that break on them early," he said. "However, I knew at three-quarter-time we had a fair bit in our legs, so we threw Doug
Thomas into the middle, and he turned the game on its head in the last quarter."
Sebastopol went into the game with key midfielders Shaun Henry and Brent Van Gils under an injury cloud, but they proved valuable on ball and scored goals during pressure moments in the match.
Four first-term majors from Sebastopol's makeshift full forward Chase Dummett helped the Kookaburras accelerate to an early 24-point lead over the Panthers.
Dummett suffered a match-ending thigh injury before the first change, however, and Melton South regrouped to kick two unanswered goals late in time-on to go into the first break 10 points in arrears. Melton South dominated the early part of the second quarter, but kicked a string of minor scores from achievable shots until Panther ruckman Marc Dransman levelled the scores by converting a great pack mark into two flags.
Sebastopol quickly replied with clever goals to replacement full-forward Michael Powell and Luke Parker, but a successful running snap by Melton South's Rodney Rich reduced the Kookaburras' margin to less than a goal at the long break.
Sebastopol's Powell continued his great work in front of the big sticks, kicking a trio of early-term majors which helped catapult the Kookaburras to a 27-point advantage. By contrast, Melton South and BFL leading goa kicker Mathew Sutton did not slot through his first major until late in the third quarter due to the close checking tactics of interleague full-back Malcom Niblett.
Inspired by the opportunity to score a rare three wins in a day, Sebastopol ran hard in the opening minutes of the final term and bounced out to a 14-point advantage when Brent Van Gils brought up two flags from a desperate over-the-shoulder snap.
But then, sensing their finals hope were on the line, the Panthers responded by kicking seven unanswered goals.
- Ballarat Courier