Williamstown got the pick-me-up it needed to end its mildly concerning two-game losing skid in the Victorian Football League.
There was no better antidote for the Seagulls than to record a stirring 12-point victory over ladder-leaders Richmond in an absorbing contest at the Williamstown Football Ground on Sunday.
It was the perfect way for the Seagulls to salute the much-loved stalwart Willie Wheeler in his 100th game.
Seagulls coach Andrew Collins was not downplaying the importance of the victory, both in terms of his team’s place on the ladder and their reversal of form.
“It was a really important game for us in the context of the season, more importantly about the way we’ve been playing,” he said.
“It was a terrific effort by the players to beat a quality opponent.
“It should bring a lot of confidence going forward.”
It was a red hot contest from the outset with little to separate the two sides all day.
Richmond kicked the first three goals of the game, then Williamstown responded with the next three.
The goal-for-goal nature continued until late in the third quarter when the Seagulls posted three consecutive goals through Daylan Kempster, Lachlan Schultz and Ben Cavarra to bust the game open.
Every time Richmond threw a punch in the form of a goal in the last quarter, the Seagulls would counter-punch with a goal of their own and keep a firm grip on the lead.
Collins was pleased to see his team stand up in the pressure moments.
“It was a really tight game, could’ve gone either way,” he said. “We had some better moments, better contests.
“What has cost us in the past couple of weeks is that we’ve been in the contest and then we’ve just made a couple of errors that have been very costly, but I thought we minimised the errors in our game today.”
Leigh Masters, with 22 disposals, seven marks and four tackles, was superb at centre half-back for Williamstown.
Masters was constantly a roadblock to opposition attack and turned defence in attack for his own team.
“He was outstanding,” Collins said.
The versatile Brett Bewley continued his fine season with 32 disposals, six marks and five tackles, while Michael Gibbons was the most influential onballer with 29 disposals and the game-sealing goal.
The under-sized Jordan Jones competed well in the ruck for the Seagulls, Billy Myers curtailed the influence of Sam Lloyd and Nick Rodda was a presence in the forward line, while at his feet Schultz kicked a game-high three goals.
Wheeler had a day out in his milestone game, finishing with 26 disposals and five tackles before he was carried off on the shoulders of teammates to the applause of the Seagulls fans.
Williamstown, siting in eighth spot, faces Sandringham Zebras in a crucial encounter at Williamstown Football Ground on Sunday before its mid-season break.