DEAKIN University coach Trent Anderson rates the gutsy victory over Timboon Demons as among the three best wins of his tenure.
The Sharks trailed at the halfway point of the last quarter but kicked 4.2 to 0.1 thereafter to win 11.13 (79) to 10.3 (63) at Mortlake’s D. C. Farran Oval.
The victory ended a seven-game Warrnambool and District league losing streak stretching back to round two, although six had come against top-half sides.
“There were some really good wins last year,” Anderson said.
“But this win, because we were starting to get down, to get up and win is pretty special.
“It goes up there in my top three anyway. It’s great to come off the ground and know there was not one passenger out there.”
Deakin University’s senior players — Joe Higgins, Matt Lenehan, Steve Byron, Liam Turner and Josh Van Heugten — had major influences late in the match.
Unheralded forward James Crawford was also prominent, initially against Brendan Hickey and then on Andrew Blake. But the result could have been different had the Demons held their nerve, having turned a 21-point deficit in the third term into a nine-point lead in the last.
Classy onballer Dylan Cahill started the fightback with a goal on the run before Tom Hunt kicked three majors either side of the last break.
Ash Rosolin had his soccered effort cancelled out by a Steve Byron dribble from the boundary soon after.
But the visitors had seemingly done enough when Cahill goaled from a pass to restore the buffer, making the score 10.2 to 7.11.
Not so. Goals to Byron and Crawford, whose monster goal from near the boundary brought the small crowd to life, put the Sharks in front.
Lenehan then secured the win with an accurate set shot on the back of a 50-metre penalty. A late Higgins goal was the icing on the cake.
The 50-metre penalty was a result of high contact from two Demons players on Shark Jack Ryan — who finished the afternoon in hospital.
“Timboon played some really tough footy today ... they made it a hell of a battle. I take my hat off to them, they did a really good job,” Anderson said.
Timboon Demons coach Brendan Hickey said he was pleased with his players’ endeavour. He lamented a slow start which had them playing catch up all day.
“I was really pleased with the effort of our boys today,” Hickey said. “Sure we’re disappointed not to get the win but we did everything in our power to win the game and got close to it. You’re certainly keen for another go (in a fortnight).
“Both sides would be excited by the next game, saying ‘geez that was a good game at Mortlake, I’m sure in two weeks’ time at Timboon will be good too’.”
Ryan Smith, Hunt, Sean Giles and Luke Smith were the Demons’ best. But Alex Lees could miss the next fortnight with an ankle injury.