The time had come for the Werribee Tigers to stand up – and they did so as a collective.
Coming off a breakthrough win over Essendon, the Tigers had a chance to even their season record at two wins and two losses against Casey Demons.
In front of the local fans at Hogans Road Reserve on Sunday, they grabbed it with both hands.
There were stars aplenty for the Tigers as they overturned a 16-point deficit late in the third term to win by 11 points.
The ruck and onballer duo of big man Braydon Preuss and midfielder Matt Hanson was a key partnership for Werribee.
Preuss is a player on the rise and would be in North Melbourne’s AFL side if not for the ruck riches Kangaroos coach Brad Scott has at his disposal.
Preuss feasted at the stoppages, helping himself to a mindblowing 71 hit-outs.
He was also a presence at ground level with seven tackles and commanding around the ground with six marks to go with 13 possessions.
Tigers coach John Lamont was duly impressed.
‘“He was really influential,” he said. “It was right up there with his best games. He really stood tall in the last quarter.”
While Preuss will presumably become a regular at AFL level, whether it be this season or next, the man at his feet will again have to fight tooth and nail to get into the recruiters’ notepads.
Yet Hanson collected 20 possessions to go with seven tackles in a best-on-ground performance.
“His last quarter was fantastic,” Lamont said. “He’s a really committed, contested-ball player. He’s hard and tough and team oriented. When it needed to be done, he was putting his hand up.”
The highlight for Werribee was the even contribution.
Captain Michael Sodomaco was moved into the centre in the second half and had his biggest impact, while his initial position in defence was admirably filled by first-gamer Tom Ellard.
Second-gamer Jade Cleeland gave Preuss a chop out in the ruck, but also presented well as a forward.
Defensive pressure came from forwards Matt Munro, Lindsay Thomas, Jason Robinson, Josh Williams and Ellard.
Nick Larkey showed why he was drafted by North Melbourne, kicking four goals straight.
Tom Gribble (28 disposals), first-gamer Nick Buykx (25) Will Fordham (24) and Declan Mountford (23) were prolific.
With a younger squad than those of years past, Werribee is relying more on the collective than ever to get wins, and that was evident in the victory over the Casey Demons.
“The group is coming together a bit better now,” Lamont said.
“Two wins in a row is really good, but we’re always striving to get better.”