Merrivale notched a stirring victory in its top-four clash with Russells Creek that sees it in prime position to clinch third spot at the end of the regular season.
The Tigers triumphed 12.13 (85) to 6.12 (48) at Merrivale Recreation Reserve and were down to 16 men at one stage after two of their players received yellow cards.
"We had our backs against the wall," Tigers coach Josh Sobey said.
"Resilience, proud, commitment, jumper. They're probably the words that come to mind. It was a good win."
Merrivale trailed by less than a goal at the first two breaks but found a new gear in the third and fourth quarters, outscoring the Creekers 50-10. Merrivale's lead was 10 points at three-quarter-time and grew to 37 by full-time.
"We just stuck to the system, what we believe in and we finally broke them open," Sobey said.
Russells Creek co-coach Danny Chatfield praised the Tigers but said his side will learn from the loss after being in the match for three quarters.
"We've got a young group there. Couple of older heads but we speak about it often, they've been down for so long it's getting used to winning and getting that belief," he said.
"I can't knock them for it but I told them to go away and just let it sink in.
"Hope it hurts a little bit to be honest, from a coach's point.That's what you learn and grow from."
Ruckman Manny Sandow - who came into the game with an injury concern - was a standout for the Tigers while skipper Jack Gleeson was influential with two goals. Daniel Nicholson was Russells Creek's best.
Sobey said his side had "come a long way since" its narrow round eight loss to the Creekers.
"There's been a few changes that we had to deal with throughout the year through injuries and it's probably worked in our favour a little bit now," he said.
"The belief that the boys are getting from putting in the work - it's just starting to click.
"At the end of the day we've still got another round of footy and we've got to get moving on."
A win to Merrivale against sixth-placed South Rovers in Saturday's final round will almost guarantee them third spot. The Creekers face eighth-placed Dennington and will finish fourth or fifth, depending on their result and whether Kolora-Noorat defeat Old Collegians.
They will await further assessment on skipper Taylem Wason (knee), Zak Welsford (knee) and Blair Hewett (head knock) who all suffered injuries against the Tigers.
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