LEITCHVILLE-Gunbower snapped its Lockington-Bamawm United hoodoo in the most dramatic of styles in their Heathcote District Football League qualifying final at Toolleen on Saturday.
The Bombers had never beaten the Cats in 10 meetings since joining the HDFL in 2010 and again looked headed for another defeat when they trailed by four goals in time-on of the final term.
But in a remarkable comeback, the Bombers kicked the last four goals to tie the game up at 15.15 (105) apiece at the final siren and send the game into extra time.
The Bombers kicked the only goal of the extra time period when Jake Truefeldt converted a set-shot after receiving a push-in-the-back free-kick to clinch a 16.17 (113) to 15.17 (107) win over the three-time defending premiers.
Not only was it the Bombers’ first win over the Cats in 11 attempts, it was also their first HDFL finals victory.
“With five minutes to go we were still four goals down and it was obviously going to be a tough ask,” Bombers coach Marty Shadbolt said.
“But we got a few quick clearances out of the centre and were able to kick those four goals to get it back level with them.
“We’ve shown this year that we can finish games off well and when we play well we are capable of scoring quickly.
“And when you play a long game like today, those younger legs we had in the side really helped.
“It could have been easy to throw in the towel when we were those four goals down late, but to the boys’ credit, they kept toughing it out.”
Joel Helman kicked the goal to level the scores for the Bombers in the dying stages of the final term after he marked and nailed his shot.
Earlier, the Bombers had surrendered the momentum in the third quarter.
The Bombers led by 12 points at half-time, 8.9 to 6.9, and grew their lead to 20 points early in the third term.
However, with the game threatening to slip away, the Cats slammed on six unanswered goals to take a 20-point lead into three quarter-time, setting the stage for what would become a memorable last term.
As well as kicking the match-winning goal - his fifth - half-forward Truefeldt was the Bombers’ best player.
Midfielders Russell Lee and Steve Pretty, Hoby Bussey, who had the job on Cats’ forward Lachlan Collins, and youngster Will Brereton, who played on Matt Deledio, were also among the better players for the Bombers, who will now meet North Bendigo in next Saturday’s second semi-final.
Bombers’ midfielder Brad Perry suffered a hamstring injury during the third term.
Saturday was the second final in as many years that went down to the wire for the Bombers, who lost last year’s elimination final to Heathcote by two points.
The loss leaves the Cats - who are now 1-5 in HDFL qualifying finals - needing to win two cut-throat finals if they are to earn a crack at vying for a fourth-straight flag on grand final day.
“They got a roll-on late in the game and we couldn’t lock them down to try to nullify the game,” Cats coach Adrian Dohnt said.
“Our third quarter had been really good when we put scoreboard pressure on them and up until about the 25-minute mark of the last quarter we still had a fair percentage of the footy.
“It was just those last couple of minutes where they kicked those goals.
“We’re obviously very disappointed, but need to regroup and get ourselves up for next week.”
The best players for the Cats included ruckman Chris Hudson, wingman Nathan Bacon, reliable half-back Simon Keleher and onballers Matt Bongiovanni and Marcus Angove.
Lachlan Collins kicked four goals.