There was a strange feeling that Werribee Tigers were at the VFL crossroads on Sunday.
Only four games into the season, it may seem a tad premature to make that call, but considering a loss would have left the Tigers 1-3, the consequences of defeat would have been there for all to see.
Fired-up Tigers coach John Lamont implored his charges to lift against Casey Demons at three-quarter time of the suburban stoush at Hogans Road Reserve, sensing the game was there for the taking with his side only four points down, albeit kicking into a wind.
There was the chance to square the ledger at 2-2 – or face weeks of playing catch up.
Lamont roared that a “line in the sand” moment had arrived, and his team responded in the best possible way.
The Tigers came from behind to record a season-turning 11-point win over Casey.
“Really meritorious, that last quarter,” Lamont said. “Blokes really stood up and responded under pressure and played their roles. They got it done. It was really pleasing, a really spirited win.”
The foundation to the victory was laid in the shadows of three-quarter time.
Werribee was hanging around in the contest, but had not reached any great heights prior to time-on in the third term.
In fairness to the Tigers, the game was a scrappy affair all round to that point as the wind and traditional local ground conditions made for a contested battle.
Scores were low, but Casey had the upper hand with a 16-point lead – a handy break in a low-scoring game.
Two Werribee goals late in time-on of the third quarter from Cameron Zurhaar and Lindsay Thomas, totally changed the complexion of the match.
Suddenly, it was just a one-kick ball game.
“Kicking those two late goals meant we’re back even,” Lamont said.
“I revved them up at three-quarter time – I don’t speak to them like that all the time – to hopefully capitalise on the bit of momentum that we had – and they responded.”
A goal to Will Fordham 10 minutes into the fourth quarter gave Werribee the lead for the first time since quarter-time.
Consecutive goals to the experienced Thomas then put the game beyond reach of the Demons, who would have lamented their own five behinds.
The final scoreline was 13.8 (86) – 10.15 (75).
Lamont praised his side’s team defence for making it hard for the Demons to score in the last term.
That has been a trend of late for the Tigers, who are restricting opposition sides to manageable scores below 80 points.
Couple that with their own upswing in scoring with back-to-back 100-plus point games, and they have found a winning formula.
“If you’re keeping it up in your forward line, the opposition aren’t getting it inside your defensive 50 and they need inside 50s to score,” Lamont said.
“If you can impact on your opposition rebound 50 and have it coming out of their back half under pressure, then they’re not just waltzing down to their forward line.”
Werribee has moved up to ninth on the ladder and can break into the top eight with a win over Collingwood at Norm Minns Oval in Wangaratta on Saturday.
The Tigers will need to be wary of the Magpies, who slipped to 1-3 with a loss to the Northern Blues at the weekend.
“They’ll come out pretty fired up – they’ll be keen to do well,” Lamont said.
“We’ve got a few players from up that area, from the Ovens and Murray league, so to take a game to a regional centre like Wangaratta, we’re looking forward to it.”
In the development league, Werribee Tigers went down by 34 points to the Casey Demons in the curtain-raiser at Hogans Road Reserve.