NORTH Ballarat Rebels will take confidence into the TAC Cup finals series next weekend after conquering flag fancy Oakleigh Chargers for the second time this season.
The Rebels showed resilience to notch a thrilling 8.2 (50) to 5.18 (48) win at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
They finished the home-and-away season in fourth spot and will play Calder Cannons in a qualifying final next weekend.
Oakleigh dropped to second on the ladder on the back of the loss — its second by single figures in two weeks. Calder Cannons swooped to take the minor premiership.
North Ballarat Rebels coach David Loader lauded his side for its commitment against Oakleigh, labelling the win “absolutely awesome”.
The Rebels were 11 points in arrears at three-quarter-time but fought back to kick three unanswered goals in the final term to snare a remarkable win.
The Chargers’ inaccuracy haunted them in the dramatic finish, restricted to five behinds.
Loader rated the win the Rebels’ best for the season.
“We are under-staffed at the minute and everyone talks about them being the premier team in the competition and that they have 10 kids who are draftable,” he said.
“Our kids worked and worked.
“We’re not super pretty and don’t have a list of stars but the pressure we can apply against quality opposition is very good.”
Loader credited the Rebels’ structures and pressure for the Chargers’ goalkicking woes.
“It was all about efficiency. To keep them to five goals was amazing. We owned the middle of the ground so we put them in really tough spots (to score from). We are certainly rapt with the result we got.”
Portland’s Tom Templeton was one of the Rebels’ best, finishing his strong top-age season with another consistent performance.
Loader said North Ballarat would enter the finals series “chock-a-block full of confidence”.
Geelong Falcons finished third and will play Oakleigh in a qualifying final. The Falcons travelled to North Port Oval, where they defeated Dandenong Stingrays 17.12 (114) to 8.7 (55).