There was a collective sigh of relief at the Werribee Tigers after they survived a late scare to beat North Ballarat Roosters by five points at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
Leading by 23 points at three-quarter time, the Tigers were seemingly on track for a comfortable win, but the underdog Roosters charged home with four of the five last term goals to fall short by less than a kick.
It was Werribee’s fourth successive win as it goes into the state game break nicely placed in sixth position on the ladder.
But Tigers coach John Lamont knows the story could have been a whole lot different.
“It was pleasing to hang on, without a doubt,” Lamont said of a win that meant the Tigers retained the Ron Hepburn Shield for a fourth consecutive year.
“We fell asleep at the wheel and we shouldn’t have let it get to that stage. I’m very relieved – that would be the best way of putting it.”
Werribee had been in command for most of the game and gave no indication it was tiring.
Lamont believes the Tigers should have been even further than four goals in front going into the last quarter, such was their control over proceedings.
“We had enough opportunities to put them away, so that’s where we’re disappointed,” he said. “Instead of being four goals in front at three-quarter time, we should’ve been seven or eight, I reckon.
“We couldn’t put them away and it nearly came back to bite us. They got two goals late in the game and all of a sudden it was game on.”
Werribee’s last term, in particular, was riddled with errors.
In general, the Tigers were not as clean with their ball use as they had been the previous three weeks.
“All day our error rate was too high with the game being played in pretty good conditions,” Lamont said.
Majak Daw had a major influence for Werribee, kicking a team-high three goals.
“He took a couple of good marks and was a real concern, no doubt, for the North Ballarat defenders,” Lamont said.
Braydon Preuss once again dominated in the ruck, while onballers Matt Hanson and Ben Jacobs feasted on the service.
Ryley Barrack continued his stellar season in the backline, while in attack Nick Larkey and 23rd man Louis Pinnuck booted two goals each.
After losing its opening two games, Werribee has got its season back on track.
“We’re relieved to get the four points and that leaves us at 4-2 going into the break for the VFL state game,” Lamont said.
“If you gave that to me at the beginning of the year, we would’ve taken it.”
Meanwhile, Werribee Tigers have organised a practice match with the Northern Blues for Sunday morning at Arden Street. It will be open to the public.