CLOSE games were Terang Mortlake’s bugbear earlier in the season.
Yesterday the experience from the narrow losses which once threatened to keep them from a top-five berth helped the players claw a last-gasp 7.15 (57) to 8.8 (56) Hampden elimination final victory.
Teenager Alex Moloney juggled a mark in the dying seconds of the final term with scores level after Camperdown had stormed from 14 points down to turn the game on its head.
The final siren sounded as Moloney’s kick floated through for a match-winning behind.
It capped off an enthralling final 10 minutes of a game which was otherwise a dour affair.
Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving admitted he was “shot for nerves” after the down-to-the-wire finish at Cobden Recreation Reserve.
Single figures separated the two sides at every change.
Coincidentally, the Bloods had one-point leads at quarter-time and the main break.
They increased their buffer to four points at three-quarter-time and had chances to end the Pies’ hopes early in the fourth term when they dominated inside 50 play. But they couldn’t capitalise.
Teenager Tom Smith kicked Terang Mortlake’s only goal of the fourth quarter, putting it 13 points up shortly before veteran midfielder Damian O’Connor took a screamer on centre wing.
O’Connor’s grab at that stage appeared to be the exclamation point on what looked certain to be a hard-fought Bloods’ win.
Jarryd Hay had a shot but missed to give the Bloods a 14-point buffer before Camperdown found a way back.
Camperdown coach Dan Casey, who had an intriguing battle with creative defender Chris Baxter, kicked his fourth.
Then the Magpies scored a point before a lucky bounce helped Luke Clarke bridge the gap. A behind then tied scores.
It was a see-sawing final term, indicative of the opening three quarters which were riddled with turnovers from both sides, offensively and defensively.
Irving said the Bloods almost rued missed chances.
“I reckon the first five or six minutes we could have really put them to the sword and had three or four goals early but they were able to keep persevering,” he said.
“We missed goals and they went down and kicked goals.
“Final siren comes along and we’re happy to win. Either side could have won it.
“That’s what an elimination final is. It’s not often one side is going to get blown out of the water. Everyone is going to keep fighting and that’s what we thought happened.”
Irving said he was surprised and relieved when the siren sounded after Moloney’s kick.
“There was only 26 minutes gone so we thought there might have been one or two minutes to go,” he said.
“He hit it sweet and then it just faded and when the siren went we just couldn’t believe the siren had actually gone at that stage.”
Camperdown coach Dan Casey said he was proud of the Magpies’ fight.
“It is heartbreaking to see young boys who have put in so much effort and get no reward at the end,” he said.
“You don’t know what to say to them. It’s finals football. It’s just red-hot pressure and we got ourselves back in the game and to lose in the last second is one of those things.”