For three quarters of football Merrivale took it right up the Warrnambool and District league's reigning premiers Nirranda.
A nine-point buffer to the Blues at half-time was chiseled away to nothing at the last break.
But a goal to Ben Threlfall in the opening minutes of the fourth term breathed new life into Nirranda, which went on a barnstorming run to finish 13.13 (91) to 9.7 (61) winners.
Blues coach Shane Threlfall said his side took confidence from the way they stuck with Kolora-Noorat all the way to end in last week's two-point loss after fading away against Old Collegians in round one.
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"We always stated it would take a little while to hit our straps," he said.
"But we're starting to finish off games much better now."
Both Nirranda and Merrivale displayed impressive defensive pressure in the early stages of the game, with just two majors scored in the first term.
But the Blues eventually had too many avenues to goal for the Tigers to shut down, with Gary Robinson, Jon Bennallack (three), Rick Spokes and Peter McDowall (two) all hitting the scoreboard.
And Threlfall said his ability to throw "hard-working" inside midfielders McDowall and Dan Craven forward with productive results was a key element to victory.
"Pete played his best game for the season," he said.
But Tigers half-back Todd McLean also grabbed the Nirranda coach's attention.
"We had a few things in place to curve his influence but he was still fantastic," Threlfall said.
"Merrivale are very quick, spread well and played a great brand of footy.
"I think they'll win plenty of games this year."
Threlfall said he was rapt Isaac Couch got to play his first senior game for Nirranda and expected injured stars Jesse Dalton and Jack Primmer to return within two to three weeks.
Nirranda faces the Timboon Demons next week while Merrivale hosts Kolora-Noorat.
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