Warrnambool coach Ben Parkinson has praised his young side for holding its nerve in the crucial one-point win against a wasteful Hamilton on Saturday at the Reid Oval.
The 10.7 (67) to 8.18 (66) win lifted the Blues four points clear of the Kangaroos in fifth-position in arguably the most important fixture of the Hampden league season so far.
Parkinson told The Standard he was proud to see some of the club's most "exciting" young players step up in a red-hot contest with some senior players still unavailable.
"We're not the only team to have big personnel out of the team - we had another debutant, and our under 18s have probably been hampered because of it," he said.
"But Cooper Hoffman played really well, Finn Radley played his first game, Amon Radley is from the 18s, Reggie Mast is from the 18s so we had four of those boys in.
"We had a few more in Benny Howard, Lochie Worden, Theo Opperman and these boys only played underage level last year as well so we're really young.
A third of our team are that 18 years of age or younger so it's good to see them win in tight ones.- Ben Parkinson
"A third of our team are that 18 years of age or younger so it's good to see them win in tight ones, you get more out of that than getting run over the top.
"A few of our senior players really stood up as well - Brad Bull and Darcy Graham really got back to the players we know they are and led the way for us."
The Kangaroos had their chances in the final term, kicking 1.7 to 1.0 to fall narrowly short in a clash Parkinson described as an "arm-wrestle".
The home side kicked away to a four-goal lead in the second-term before Hamish Waldron's group stormed back to pinch the lead in the third.
"Hamilton had a real patch in the third and got about 10 (points up) and in the last few weeks if that's happened we've probably dropped our heads, but to our boys' credit we were able to not only stop them but get in front by three-quarter-time," he said.
"They kicked 1.7 in the last so they'd be spewing, so they'd be disappointed to lose by the barest of margins - it was an arm-wrestle that's for sure.
"It was nerve-wracking in the end but we're really happy to get the four points and go four points clear of Hamilton in fifth."
Hamilton coach Hamish Waldron said he was "bitterly disappointed" in the lack of execution in the final term in front of goals.
"To kick 1.7 in that last quarter and still not kick a goal to win it in the last 90 seconds was the heartbreaking thing," he said.
"It wasn't as if the opportunities weren't there to win it, they were there. There was a couple of blokes that ran into open goals in the last little bit and missed so it's unfortunate.
"Bad kicking is bad footy, scoreboard pressure is the key."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.