TERANG Mortlake will return from the Hampden league break confident it can make a late charge at finals.
The Bloods broke through for their first clutch win this season on Saturday, bringing their record to 4-7 to be one game outside the top five with seven games remaining.
Their five-point win against third-placed North Warrnambool Eagles in wet conditions followed four single-digit losses in the first 10 rounds.
Three-point losses to Portland and the Eagles in the opening two weeks, a nine-point defeat to South Warrnambool in round seven and a seven-point loss to Koroit after conceding a 43-point second-quarter lead in round eight had the Bloods’ season teetering on the brink.
But Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving said the Bloods had a new-found resolve and Corey Rounds’ goal which handed it victory in the dying stages against the Eagles emphasised that.
“It all stemmed back from the Portland game,” he said.
“Even though we didn’t win, we probably played as consistently as we have over four quarters.
“That was the impetus for the weekend.
“Even though the conditions were ordinary, we controlled the play for 95 per cent of the day.
“You could see the fight in the contest and they weren’t willing to give in.”
Irving, who handed the coaching reins to assistant Chris Bant at the weekend, said the evenness of the competition meant the fight for a finals spot could go down to the wire.
“The ladder is so tight,” he said.
“Losing games by small margins might hurt us in the long run or help us in the long run (with percentage potentially a factor).
“It’s really in our hands at the moment.
“The last two weeks have been really positive for us and we have to make sure we carry that on after the break.”
With Terang Mortlake’s under 18½s winning the past two flags, the Bloods backed a host of teenagers against North Warrnambool Eagles at Bushfield.
Irving said they all contributed, a promising sign for the club’s depth.
“Of the four who came in — Danny Craven, Jason Lee, Sam Crawley and Alex Moloney — three were in our best,” he said.
“And Alex wasn’t far away as well.
“The conditions suited a couple of the boys.
“Two or three weeks ago Sam Crawley went back to the under 18s and it could have gone either way but he grabbed his opportunity.”
Irving will take a group of 14 Terang Mortlake academy teenagers and half a dozen senior players to Melbourne today for a football trip.
They will visit Docklands stadium, AFL House, Melbourne and Essendon before dropping in at Geelong Falcons’ high-performance centre on their way home.
Bloods exports Chris Heffernan, a 170-game veteran with Essendon and Melbourne, and Jordie McKenzie, a current Demon, helped arrange the two club visits.
Heffernan is a board member at Essendon.