PORTLAND will take strong form into its must-win final round match against Koroit after disposing of Cobden on Saturday.
Tigers coach Jake Myles and teenager Jay Moody kicked four goals apiece in their 14.12 (96) to 6.9 (45) victory at Hanlon Park which kept their finals dream flickering.
Portland took a 34-point lead into half-time, having restricted Cobden to one goal for the half, and was never threatened.
The sixth-placed Tigers are in a battle with fourth-placed Terang Mortlake and fifth-placed Camperdown for a finals spot.
Myles said a crunch game against the second-placed Saints would determine his side’s fate. “We’ve had five chances to beat a top-three side (and haven’t) and if we can’t next week we don’t deserve to be there,” he said.
“I don’t mind being in this position — if we get there it means we’ve earned it.”
Myles rated the Tigers’ ball use against the Bombers as the highest quality it had been all season and has been rapt with their endeavour the past month.
“Inside 50s and possessions we dominated all day,” he said.
He nominated Moody, midfielder Jake Dignan, half-back Scott Clark and key defender Luke Van Heugten as Portland’s best performers.
“Jay had a productive day,” he said.
“It’s been a tough year with the intensity he’s copped as a 17-year-old.”
The only negative for Portland was a serious injury to big man Dennis O’Loughlin, who dislocated his ankle in the final term.
Meanwhile, Warrnambool captain Jason Rowan needs 10 goals in the final round to reach a century in the home-and-away season after Port Fairy’s Mason Crosier kept him to two majors in the Blues’ 12.7 (79) to 6.10 (46) win at Gardens Oval on Saturday.
Blues coach Scott Carter said his top-placed side at times succumbed to the Seagulls’ midfield pressure.
“Crosier played a pretty good game on him (Rowan) but our delivery into our forward 50 left a bit to be desired,” he said.
“It was a little bit disappointing we didn’t play as well as we should have in really good conditions — the ground was really good and there was no wind.”
Seagulls coach Sam Rudolph was pleased with his side’s defensive efforts.
Rowan, Sam Cowling and Travis Graham — the Blues’ fearful three-pronged attack — only scored four goals between them.
Rudolph said Port Fairy lost forward Sam McCartney (hamstring) and midfielder Aaron Shields (ribs) to injuries and was two players down for much of the second half, which made its ability to fight it out more impressive.
“It was a really good effort but our skill level wasn’t quite there,” he said.
“It’s been the story of the year — we’ve had opportunities but didn’t finish them.
“They are a class side and use the ball well and hurt us on the turnovers.”