Nirranda coach Brayden Harkness says a trust and belief within the group paid dividends in Saturday's thrilling win against Merrivale.
The Blues were up against it for most of the afternoon against a rock-solid and tough Merrivale unit, before storming home in the low-scoring affair with four goals in the final term to win by six points, 5.10 (40) to 5.4 (34).
Important forward Danny Craven kicked two goals in the dying moments - a set-shot from 40 out to level the scores with around 30 seconds left in the game and a snap that dribbled through moments later to win the game.
The goals came after the Blues had kicked just two goals up until the moments of magic.
"Good players step up in big moments, and we saw that on Saturday," Harkness told The Standard.
"I said to a few of the boys that I'm lucky I'm bald already, I wouldn't have had much left after that."
It was a fascinating first half, with the Tigers' defensive unit holding firm and controlling the midfield battle, leaving the Blues goalless despite opportunities and trailing by 19 at the main break.
The Blues mentor - returning from a bout of COVID - said the turnaround came down to inner belief that if the group stuck to their plans the game would swing.
"We knew we were playing pretty poor footy to be honest, but they hadn't quite put us away," Harkness said.
"They were controlling without overpowering us, so we knew that if we backed our skill in and our players, all we needed was a bit of momentum.
"In that last quarter we willed ourselves over the line - we don't want to be putting ourselves in that position too much."
Harkness said the Tigers really challenged them in a lot of areas, with Dylan Lees and Dylan Philp particularly eye-catching across the afternoon.
For Josh Sobey's side - who despite the tough loss will take plenty of confidence they can match it with one of the competition's benchmark - Manny Sandow, Colby Rix and Wilson Lenehan were excellent.
"We were up by 11 goals at quarter time last week, and this week didn't kick a goal until the third quarter, so there's a lot we need to address and get better at it. Merrivale were great, spread well so we knew it would be a tight contest," Harkness said.
"Good teams find a way to win even when things aren't going and that's what we did really well."
Sobey said it was a reminder for his group to take their opportunities against high-quality teams.
"We certainly put ourselves in a positive position to win the game, so the result was certainly disappointing," he said.
"A couple of things didn't go our way, you've got to nail your moments. I thought we stuck to our game plan and pressure well, but we probably didn't make the most of our opportunities in the third, we felt we dominated.
"They're a quality side, they're going to stick at it, so the game never felt it had been won at any stage."
The Tigers did endure a couple to injuries throughout the game, with Dylan Scoble (ankle) and Kirk Downie (ankle) both going down. Sobey said the severity for both is unknown at this stage.
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