With the Call to Arms Cup honouring the life of Phil Muhovics on the line, West and East Gambier gave it everything in an entertaining display of Western Border football at Malseed Park on Saturday.
Despite having won just one game all year and none since round 4, the Bulldogs threw everything at getting some silverware from the season other than the wooden spoon.
Against the odds the team led by Matt Scanlon and Jayden Eldridge had earned a four-point lead at three-quarter time through gritty football which forced their fancied rivals into mistakes.
It ensured the Dogs could dream of victory, but it was their opponents who put in the inspired performance when it mattered.
With Lewis Lean and Lawry Bradley-Brown at their best, West improved its ball movement to overrun its rivals and steal the game by 24 points after kicking four unanswered goals in the final term.
Roos’ assistant coach Nathan Lewis said it is always an honour to win such a trophy, especially after responding when the game was up for grabs.
“It is a good cause to play for the Call to Arms Cup and its importance should not be lost on the day,” he said.
“Our leaders Daron (McElroy) and Lawry stepped up, but East should have had a bigger lead because some pretty bad turnovers and panic crept into our game and nothing quality was going into our forwards.
“Our backline kept us in in and once we lowered our eyes going inside 50 we looked like the team we should be.
“We had a hard truth chat at half time and we responded in the last quarter.”
East showed it was here to play in the headline fixture early by kicking three goals straight in the first term.
But the fine work of Shaun Lock and John Forster could not stop the Roos from also having some fun early.
With coach Daron McElroy being a big presence at all corners of the ground, West peppered the scoreboard with nine shots at goal.
Although less than half were on point the hosts still surged into the break with a nine-point lead as the team to beat.
However, the tables turned in the second term and this time the Bulldogs were having the most fun.
Garret Ha, Sam Lock and Shaun Lock all loomed large inside 50 as East made its move producing nine scoring shots to two.
But East only enjoyed a six-point lead at the main break after missing five of those shots which kept the hosts more than interested.
After a high-octane first half, tensions rose during a tighter third term as players were sent off.
Neither side could break free as the rivals kicked two goals each to set the stage for a thrilling final term.
But this only created the platform for the Roos to shine and show why they are looking set to play in finals.
After pushing his team over the line in the last-quarter surge, McElroy was awarded with the special Phil Muhovics Medal.