KANGAROO Flat survived a massive last quarter scare from South Bendigo to boot the final three goals of Saturday’s thriller and claim a 19-point win.
In front of a legion of former Roos back at Beck Legal Oval for the Flat’s weekend 150th celebrations, the Bloods hit the front by two points 12 minutes into the final term.
It took a concerted effort by Roo midfielders James Saville and Luke Lougoon to rekindle the home side’s run and spread as Matt Giri, Saville and Cameron Rinaldi drilled the match-winning majors.
Rinaldi finished with five goals in Kangaroo Flat’s 12.10 (82) to 9.9 (63) victory. The win regained fifth spot for the Roos.
But nothing should detract from South’s pluck and courage. Following a round where they’d kicked just one goal for the entire match, the Bloods tackled relentlessly, ran in numbers and backed each other up.
They dominated the third quarter, hammering home three goals to one to narrow the margin to 10 points at the last change.
In the opening term after the Bloods' Rory Alexander had run around from his mark on an angle to land the first goal for South, the Roos got going.
Rinaldi landed two of the three first term majors for the Roos. He capitalised on Nick Lang’s overhead supremacy and long handball to boot one of his goals and then marked a pinpoint pass from Corbin Fleming for his second.
And even though the Roos extended their lead to 25 points by half-time with a four-goal-to-two second quarter, the signs were there that South was in a fiercely competitive mode.
Ben Haines was now by Rinaldi’s side, while Michael Tonkin and Nick Howe were resolute defenders as well.
After Ash Benbow had marked a Corey Greer pass for Flat’s fourth, Alexander booted his and South’s second goal from the bowling greens pocket.
Cohen Kekich made the Bloods pay with a goal from a 50m penalty before Rinaldi broke away from Haines to land a pair - the second also from a 50m penalty.
The Bloods dominated the third term, adding 3.3 to the Roos’ solitary major. Mitch Hocking (two) and skipper Aaron Connaughton drilled South’s majors, with Hocking’s second cutting the margin to four points 23 minutes in.
Sensing the threat, Ross Turner intercepted a South handball midfield and passed to Corbin Fleming. He steered through the Flat’s only third quarter score at the 25-minute mark to hand the Roos a 10-point three-quarter time lead.
Luke Crawford’s snap for South at the Station Street end again cut the deficit to four points early in the final term. Turner replied to land one of the goals of the day for the Roos when he soccered home his shot from about 10 metres out.
The Bloods weren’t done. Charles Trotman burst through midfield and found Daniel Frew for another Bloods’ major.
When Alexander drilled his third goal from 40 metres out South stormed to the lead with 12 minutes gone, 9.8 to 9.6.
The Flat dug deep. A long ball deep into the front half from Saville was marked by Giri. From an angle Giri ran around and nailed his second goal of the match.
Soon after a smart handball from Rinaldi to Saville on his preferred left side ended in a great running goal.
Fittingly, it was Rinaldi who put the result beyond doubt when he marked a Saville pass and drove home his fifth goal.
Flat coach Jason Stevens said teams such as Maryborough, South Bendigo and Kyneton would end up shaping the make-up of the final five.
“We’re getting used to close games out here and in the end we were lucky to get the four points.
“It’s been a big week for our club, so it’s hard to gauge what that takes out of the players. There’s a lot of expectation and pressure, but in the end we brought Flat’s values of mateship, intensity and effort to the contest and got over the line.”