NINE goals from Hampden league pair Jamaine Jones and Hugh McCluggage lifted North Ballarat Rebels into fourth spot with one TAC Cup round to play.
Jones (five goals) and McCluggage (four) set the tone in the Rebels’ 18.11 (119) to 10.9 (69) win over Northern Knights on Saturday.
The Rebels face sixth-ranked Eastern Ranges in a final-round showdown which will determine whether they book a double chance or are thrust into a cut-throat final.
“Sandringham Dragons were beaten by Oakleigh Chargers, so that opened an opportunity for us to go into the four, if we were good enough,” North Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald said.
“The challenge now is to stay there. Eastern Ranges had a pretty good win over Gippsland Power in Morwell.
“They are a couple of games behind us...we had a very close game with them in Melbourne earlier in the year.”
A final-quarter blitz helped the Rebels turn a slender four-point three-quarter-time lead into a commanding victory over the Knights. They slammed on nine goals to two, impressing FitzGerald with their stoppage work.
“We were severely tested throughout – there were real lessons for the boys,” he said.
“We couldn’t quite get our rhythm or system going well enough for long enough.
“It was only in the last quarter we got our game style going, both offensively and defensively.”
FitzGerald said the Portland-aligned Jones was dangerous in attack and South Warrnambool talent McCluggage emphasised his ability to kick goals from the midfield.
Camperdown half-back Cedric Cox shone playing a different role on a wing, collecting 22 disposals.