West Gambier has become an expert at finishing games strong and this skill proved decisive in a tense Bendigo Bank Western Border football clash against East Gambier at McDonald Park.
The Kennel was hounded by the full force of mother nature and the contest between two teams turned into a scrappy affair with only three goals possible across the first three quarters.
The Roos managed to take the high ground heading into the final term when they made their move.
Despite East co-coach Matt Scanlon nailing a set shot to draw the scoreboard level one minute into the fourth quarter, West managed to neutralise the threat as the game returned to its slow and physical nature.
The Roos found passages out of the packs through chains of quick handballs and the link up between Jordan Williams and Ben Papps allowed Michael Minuzzo to run into an open goal.
This put the visitors back in front before the game was paused when a player went down behind the play.
But as the sun reappeared and play resumed, West silenced the home crowd with a couple of hard-earned opportunistic goals from Aden Pfitzner and Papps.
The Roos created these chances by gritting their teeth, attacking the ball and amplifying fierce pressure on the hosts which paved the way to a 42-26 win.
West is now back in the top four following the result and assistant coach Nathan Lewis paid credit to his team’s fighting abilities.
“It was pretty even all day and the conditions were not easy, so it was hard to score and a couple of goals were going to win it,” he said.
“We felt like we were doing enough of the right things and our defence was rock solid and did not give East a lot of easy opportunities or quality looks like the last time we played them.
“The game was up for grabs at the finish and we just kept them at bay enough.”
Initially a Roos win appeared unlikely after East dominated the opening term.
West struggled to match a fast-starting Bulldogs team which produced five scoring shots to one before the first break.
The hosts’ strengths were on full display during a passage of play when a Roos’ rebound kick out of defensive 50 was cut off by youngster Jack Lawrence.
Then a laser kick by Jayden Eldridge nailed the chest of Nick Walters as the East forwards enjoyed strong supply.
However, only Mark Rumbelow could complete a set shot with the hosts kicking 1.4 in the first term which kept the visitors in the game and would prove costly.
The rain started to make life difficult with only Lawry Bradley Brown and Nathan Taylor scoring goals in the second and third terms to put West into the lead before three-quarter time.
In the arm wrestle, Eldridge led the Bulldogs from the front alongside fellow tough footballers in Nick Lock, Luke Johnston and John Forster.
But the likes of Minuzzo, Lewis Lean and Jesse Pfitzner kept matching the intensity until the Roos broke the game open in the last and skipped away.