Sandhurst coach Ashley Connick has enjoyed plenty of success as a senior player and coach over the past three decades, but few wins have been more satisfying than the Dragons' Good Friday victory over Strathfieldsaye.
The Dragons looked down and out early in the final quarter when they trailed the reigning premier Storm by 26 points.
Despite being down two rotations on the bench because of injuries, the Dragons kicked the final six goals of the match to win by 13 points.
"I've coached well over 200 senior games and that was as good a feeling as I've had in that 10-15 minutes after the match,'' Connick said.
"It was the manner of the win and not necessarily the opponent we played and the fact we hadn't won at Tannery Lane for six or seven years.
"The most pleasing thing was the pride the group showed in the way they hung in and stayed in the game when at 26 points down most people around the ground probably thought the match was over."
Connick said the club's arduous pre-season running sessions had paid dividends in the final quarter surge.
"Fitness and belief were factors no doubt and then I think a bit of adrenaline kicks in. When you get on a roll like that it carries you a bit further'' Connick said.
"This is the fittest group I've coached. All our (pre-season) testing indicated that we were very fit and it was nice to see that evidence in a game.
"It will hold us in good stead for the rest of the year."
While the late run of goals saw the Dragons over the line, the work of the club's new-look backline to keep the Storm to eight goals was a major factor in the win.
After losing Jake and Zac Pallpratt and Liam Wilkinson from their 2019 side, the Dragons were forced to remodel their squad behind the ball.
"We're really happy with our back six or seven and the work we've put into how we want them to play and position,'' Connick said.
"Shaun O'Farrell has come in after one year with the Pioneers and worked extremely hard in the gym and on his fitness.
"To have him step straight in and play a key role really helps.
"Liam Ireland is getting better each year and is taking more ownership of the group.
"Lachy Ross is a standout player and we've had two pre-seasons to come into this season and I don't think he's missed a session. He's super fit and in the prime stage of his footy.
"Isaac Ruff plays like a 300-gamer despite being in his early 20s and we have some talented and tough kids like Noah Walsh and Isaac Carracher to play through there as well."
Ruff (ankle) and Alex Wharton (AC joint) will have scans this week to determine the seriousness of their injuries.
Both will miss the Dragons' home clash with Maryborough at the QEO on Saturday.
"As a coaching group we switched to Maryborough late on Friday,'' Connick said.
"While everything clicked for us late in the game, we think there's a lot of improvement to come out of Friday in terms of our ball movement and execution.
"If we can get that right it will add a fair bit to us. There's quite a few areas we can get better in.
"Round one has gone now and we need to attack round two the same way we did last week. The carrot is there for us to go 2-0 and then enjoy a week off."
This Saturday's games in the BFNL:
- Sandhurst v Maryborough at the QEO, 2.15pm
- Gisborne v Strathfieldsaye at Gardiner Reserve, 2.15pm
- Castlemaine v South Bendigo at Camp Reserve, 2.15pm
- Eaglehawk v Kangaroo Flat at Canterbury Park, 5pm
- Kyneton v Golden Square at Kyneton Showgrounds, 5.30pm
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