TWO key pillars, playing at either end of the ground, are hoping they can emulate their match-defining form as North Warrnambool Eagles strive for a Hampden league finals berth.
Ruckman-turned forward Jordan Dillon kicked the winning goal and emerging defender Joe McKinnon kept league leading goal-kicker Darren Ewing to one major in the Eagles' thrilling two-point win over Warrnambool on Saturday.
Dillon, who also kicked the first goal of the game, put the Eagles back in front in the dying stages of the top-of-the-table contest at Bushfield.
The Blues had clawed their way back from a 26-point three-quarter-time deficit and hit the front via a Luke Cody special.
But the Eagles, who had restricted the potent Blues to five goals in the first three terms, had the answers.
Their 12.8 (80) to 11.12 (78) win lifted them to top spot after five rounds with the Blues dropping from first to third.
Dillon, who finished with four goals, admitted he was nervous when he went back to kick his set shot.
"It was pretty good at the end, pretty nerve-racking at the time," he said.
"I don't reckon I have been that nervous having a shot for goal ever."
Dillon spent more time forward with Ben Mugavin coming in, who gave the Eagles a third ruck option along with Wallace.
"It was a good opportunity for Benny Mugavin to get a go because he's probably been the most unlucky bloke at the club for the first four weeks," he said.
"His pre-season was probably one of the best and he deserved it (a chance to play seniors) today and he did a good job on Dan Weymouth who is probably one of the best ruckmen in the comp."
McKinnon was given the task on Ewing, who had kicked 28 goals in the first four games.
The Eagles' defensive unit's efforts helped the young tall out with Darcy Keast, Bailey Jenkinson and Mitch Bowman all crucial to the result.
McKinnon admitted he was pretty nervous when he got told he was "going to play on one of the best forwards in the league".
"It was good to keep him to one goal but I mean the team's effort was just unreal today," he said.
"We knew the pressure was going to be on and we weren't sure about the weather but I think we probably controlled most of the game.
"We talked a lot about trying to keep them to three goals a quarter, so to keep them to five in a half that was really good."
The Eagles surged to a handy lead at the final break but the Blues rallied, kicking six goals to two in the final term.
Cody's goal put them two points up late in the quarter but Warrnambool coach Matt O'Brien conceded "we would've stolen it".
"The message was it was really disappointing. To not play our best for three quarters we've let ourselves down," he said.
"I thought their back line was excellent but also their midfield. We found it difficult to run the ball through and get our eyes up to find the right target.
"We were either bringing it in slowly or bringing it in under pressure which allowed their defenders to cut it off.
"We started getting on top in the middle (in the last term), our tackling went up and also we were a little bit aggressive and attacking with our handball which allowed us to break the lines and get the ball moving forward."
.@WFNCblues are down at half-time but supporter Mark Ludeman is hoping they and son Thomas, who plays midfield, can overcome North Warrnambool in the second half. Here’s this week’s Listen to the fans segment. @WboolStandardpic.twitter.com/bfGZb6yCVl— Justine McCullagh-Beasy (@JustineMB_29) May 11, 2019
Eagles coach Adam Dowie said he was rapt with his players' application.
"We didn't play perfectly by any stretch of the imagination but we competed really hard and stuck to what we're trying to do," he said.
"We had a quick look at our best players and four of the six were defenders so we felt they really did well one-on-one."
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