A final-quarter push was enough to get Tullamarine over the line in a tense Essendon District Football League division 1 clash with Westmeadows.
On a heavy Leo Dineen Reserve, the match was an arm wrestle for much of the afternoon as the two sides traded goals through the opening three quarters before the Demons pulled away to record a 12.10 (82)-10.8 (68) win.
Tullamarine coach David Connell said it was pleasing to be on the winning side despite changes in the side.
“We probably went in without a few guys that we would have liked to have, but the guys just stood up when they needed to,” Connell said.
“At three-quarter time when, it was just two points the difference. It really just came down to whoever was prepared to dig in a little bit more … I thought our guys were terrific in the last quarter.
“They were tough when they had to be. We were missing (Anthony) Prestia, but Jack Burns had probably his best game through the middle for us … Tim Barresi was out, too, who probably would have got the job on Omar Saad, the leading goalkicker, but we had a young under-19 kid step up and keep him to just one goal, which was great.
“We’ve had a motto all year that we don’t rely on one or two guys and we can share the load, so we did that well under pressure this week.”
The two sides traded goals in the early stages of the match, with Westmeadows holding a one-goal advantage at the first break, but the ladder-leading Demons hit back in the second term.
They kicked four goals to one to open up a handy lead as the variety of options up forward proved a problem for the visitors.
The Tigers clawed back into the contest in the third to give themselves a sniff of victory with a slender final-change lead, but the Demons showed their class in the last, pulling away to record their eighth win from nine rounds.
Richard Findlay and Blair Cronin kicked two goals each as ten Tullamarine players registered majors in the win.
Despite their lofty ladder position, Connell said the team was staying grounded.
“We were 7-1 at the turn last year and we’re 8-1 at this point, but we’ve had our challenges this year with injuries, which we didn’t have last year,” he said.
“We’ve just found a way to win most weeks, but we feel like we’ve got improvement in us.
“As a group, we’re staying pretty grounded … we haven’t even discussed finals yet. I guess when you’ve lost three grand finals in five years, the lid is never really off.
“This group know how hard it is to win it, so I don’t have to worry about the boys getting ahead of themselves.”