BENDIGO Dragons will head to Melton this weekend with their Gridiron Victoria playoff hopes intact.
The Dragons clash with Western Crusaders on Sunday at 10.30am and will be eager for revenge after losing the teams’ round two contest 22-18.
A win last weekend against Melton Wolves extended their record 2-5-1, with a win over the Crusaders a must if the Dragons are to continue to entertain hopes of playoff involvement.
The Dragons showed plenty of grit in their 9-7 win over the plucky Wolves.
In a defensive standoff, opportunities to score proved few and far between in the first half.
The inability of the Dragons to score following a late Wolves’ turnover in the first quarter saw the deadlock drag out until the dying moments of the second quarter, where the Dragons were gifted great field position again with another turnover by the Wolves’ offence.
This time, however, the Dragons were able to capitalise on the late-quarter turnover, as Nicholas Kastellorizios ran in for a touchdown as time expired to end the first half, breaking the deadlock and giving the Dragons a 6-0 lead at the major break.
A promising start to the second half was rewarded early when the Dragons’ coaching staff showed faith in their team, giving kicker Thomas Prince a rare opportunity at a field goal.
Prince seized his moment, completing the attempt, and in doing so put the Dragons up by two scores.
With their back against the wall, the Wolves needed a spark on offence to salvage this game.
When Matt Krul, the Wolves’ injured star quarterback entered the game in the second half, the spark was seen, and the Wolves offence was immediately ignited.
After a few promising throws by Krul, the Dragons defence began to look unsettled for the first time on the day, and a designed quarterback run caught the unit off-guard, as Krul ran into the end zone to narrow the lead.
With the extra-point converted, the Dragons lead now only stood at 2two points.
In a season where the Dragons have struggled to hold onto leads in close games, a feeling of nervousness seemed to be taking over on the sideline, as Melton, inspired by the play of their injured quarterback, looked poised for a comeback.
But the Dragons defensive unit, who had been strong all day were not about to let up, and with the game on the line and one final drive for the Wolves’ offence to take the lead and win the game, the Dragons were able to halt their opposition’s ability to move the ball, and kept the Wolves from the end zone.
Four games remain in the Dragons’ season.