FOR the second time in a month, the Bendigo Gold have suffered a heartbreaking defeat.
The Gold led the Casey Scorpions for the majority of their VFL clash at the QEO, but a snap from Ed Morris at the 30 minute mark of the final term denied the Gold their first win in two years.
The Melbourne-aligned Casey won 12.14 (86) to 12.12 (84), with scenes after the final reminiscent of the Gold's last kick defeat to the Northern Blues three weeks ago.
Gold players slumped to the ground in disbelief.
"It bloody hurts,'' Gold coach Aussie Jones said.
"The players are flatter with this result than the Northern Blues game.
"Going into the game we gave ourselves a real chance of winning. We did so many things right today, but we just didn't get the result.
"I couldn't be prouder of the effort the boys gave."
The Gold led by eight points at the final change and had two opportunities in the first two minutes of the final term to extend their lead.
However, Che Walls missed two shots when under pressure. The Scorpions then swept the ball forward and goalled to cut Bendigo's lead to four points.
Two minutes later Walls made up for him earlier misses by kicking his first goal to restore the Gold's 10-point lead.
At the 13-minute mark Gold's Alex Pollock, who had been a livewire across half-forward all day, was paid a free kick 30m out on a slight angle. His set shot hit the post.
The Gold were made to pay for the miss, with Morris marking two minutes later and kicking truly for the first of his two final quarter goals.
Instead of holding a 16-point lead, the Gold's advantage was just five points.
Despite being down a rotation because of an injury to Jack Sheahan, the Gold held firm under pressure from the Scorpions.
However, at the 23 minute mark the Scorpions were rewarded when Dom Barry kicked his third goal to give the visitors a one-point lead.
The Gold responded strongly. Tyrone Downie marked on the lead but his kick from 45m was marked on the line by towering Casey ruckman Max Gawn.
The Gold's forwards worked hard to lock the ball inside 50 for repeat stoppages.
The efforts paid off when Walls swooped on the ball and snapped truly with his left foot to give the Gold an 84-79 lead at the 27 minute mark.
At the 29-minute mark Jack Fitzpatrick marked for the Scorpions deep in the Camp Hill pocket. His tough set shot sailed wide for a point.
This time it was Casey's turn to put Bendigo's defence under enormous pressure.
The Scorpions locked the ball inside 50 and as hard as they tried the Gold couldn't work the ball clear.
A ball-up 25m out from Casey's goal fell at the feet of Morris and his quick snap out of the pack went through for a goal to give the Scorpions a two-point lead at the 30-minute mark.
For the majority of the next three minutes the Gold had the ball inside forward 50, but with more than 30 players around the ball it was hard to find space.
The Casey defence did their job and withstood the Gold's forward thrusts.
After 36 minutes the final siren sounded with the ball on the wing.
Casey players celebrated and the Gold were left shattered - again.