Altona Roosters coach Brandon Taunoa was left with mixed emotions after an outrageous 36-34 win over Waverley Oakleigh Panthers in NRL Victoria first grade at Fregon Reserve on Saturday.

For 40 minutes, the Roosters were in total command, leading 36-8 at half-time and eyeing off a massive win.

“The first half was probably the best we’ve played all year,” Taunoa said.

It was Altona’s second 40 minutes that left the coach and everyone at the ground shocked.

Somehow, the Roosters almost lost the game, after the Panthers piled on 26 unanswered points.

The victory kept the fifth-placed Roosters finals hopes alive, but Taunoa admits his team was lucky to escape with the points.

“Our boys’ second half was terrible,” he said. “We made too many errors and Waverley capitalised on them.”

Altona is one of the most potent attacking forces in the league.

The Roosters are ranked second for points scored, averaging 33.3 a game.

But their defence has let them down time and again.

“Our edge defence has cost us some games,” Taunoa said. “It’s something we’ve got to work on.”

Irrespective of whether Altona reaches the finals or not, it is a young team with a bright future.

Once they can sort out their defensive frailties, the Roosters will be one of the teams to beat.

The club is rebuilding its depth in the junior ranks, so should be set for a sustained period of success once it reaches the top.

“It’s been a good year,” Taunoa said. “We’re still a young team and learning – we just lack a bit of depth.

“Once you get a few injuries, it doesn’t help because you’re just shuffling the team around every week.

“All of our junior teams are doing fine and we’ve got a lot of good ones coming through.”

Altona claimed the Hayden Butler Memorial Shield.

Butler was a promising rugby league player who took his own life in 2015.

A foundation was set up in Butler’s name to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

If you or a loved one is experiencing negative thoughts, there is help available by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.