It promised plenty and it delivered in spades.
Saturday's Strathfieldsaye and Gisborne encounter was missing several headline acts, but the supporting actors put together the best performance of the BFNL season so far in an enthralling contest.
A goal from small forward Matthew Panuccio in the dying stages lifted Gisborne to a thrilling six-point win over the Storm.
The 11.17 (83) to 12.5 (77) victory was Gisborne's first win over Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane since round seven, 2013.
The Dogs looked home at three quarter-time when they opened up a three-goal advantage and the Storm were down to two rotations on the bench.
As they have done many times before, the Storm refused to yield.
They kicked the first two goals of the final term via 50m penalties to cut the deficit to one goal.
Another behind put the Storm within five points before Lachlan Ratcliffe brought the home crowd to life.
The defender, who was moved to centre half-forward at the final break, ran inside 50 and kicked truly on the run to give the Storm the lead.
Gisborne rallied by controlling some of the play, but the visitors battled to kick goals.
They kicked six behinds in a seven-minute period to go from one-point down to five points in front.
The missed opportunities in the final quarter looked set to haunt the Dogs after Storm forward James Schischka, who was outstanding in his side's final term surge, marked deep in the right forward pocket in front of the Strathfieldsaye faithful.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, Schischka calmly and skillfully kicked a right-foot banana that sailed through for a goal to give the Storm a one-point lead.
Crucially, Gisborne won the next centre clearance and surged forward.
The Dogs worked the ball to the goalsquare where the Storm had the numbers, but the ball was rushed through for a behind by the home defence to level the scores.
Clearing the ball from kick-ins is normally a strength of the Storm's.
This time around they couldn't get the ball outside defensive 50 and the Bulldogs rushed the ball to the hot spot 20m out from goal.
Panuccio was in the right spot at the right time and he scrambled through a goal from 15m out to give the Dogs a six-point lead.
Read more: Saturday Scoreboard
The Storm had one last chance to surge the ball forward from the centre bounce, but the Dogs held firm, the siren sounded and they celebrated a hard-fought win.
"There were times when we looked like we were going to run away with it, but they kept coming back,'' Gisborne coach Rob Waters said.
"I thought a few of our guys went back into their shells, but the young blokes responded really well.
"To fight back when the Storm headed us, and then feel that win, will be enormous for those young players. You can't buy experiences like that."
There was plenty of drama before a ball had been kicked.
The Storm were forced into three late changes after losing star midfielder Jake Moorhead, ruckman Tim Hosking and defender Jack Neylon because of illness.
That trio came on top of injuries and/or illness to Riley Clarke, Harry Conway, Hunter Lawrence, Cal McCarty, Bo Alexander and Fergus Payne.
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The Dogs had their own list of absentees, including skipper and star forward Pat McKenna, big men Braidon Blake and Dan Davie and ball magnet Ethan Minns.
The Storm's injury problems increased markedly by quarter-time when star forward Lachlan Sharp limped from the ground with a groin injury and didn't return.
Young midfielder Riley Wilson injured his shoulder in the second term, tried to come back on the ground, but was forced to sit out the rest of the game.
Gisborne lost ruckman Ben Eales to a knee injury in the second quarter, but he did return to the field later in the match.
"We lost, but in a way it's a happy loss because all our kids stood up,'' Strathfieldsaye co-coach Darryl Wilson said.
"We understand what happened to us, in terms of losing players to COVID and the flu, could happen to any club at any time, so we've just got to live with it.
"The pleasing thing was that we kept grinding away and I thought we did an awesome job, particularly considering we were down to two players on the bench early in the second quarter."
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Midfielder Brad Bernacki had 30 possessions to be Gisborne's leading ball winner, while Flynn Lakey picked up 25 touches.
Athletic Gisborne forward Josh Kemp caused the Storm defence headaches all afternoon.
Kemp took nine marks and had 16 kicks, but didn't finish his good work in front of goal.
Premier Data had the Coburg-listed forward down for 2.4. Gisborne's stats said 2.7.
Forward Matt Merrett showed why he's so highly-regarded at Gardiner Reserve by kicking 4.2 from 10 kicks.
The Bulldogs named Jack Scanlon their best player after he took on the number one ruck role in the absence of Eales.
Schischka and Kal Geary were clearly the Storm's most damaging players.
Schischka took the honours in a great battle with Jaidyn Owen.
The athletic forward took 15 marks, picked up 20 possessions and kicked 2.1.
Kal Geary was the leading possession winner on the ground with 17 kicks and 17 handballs.
Baxter Slater continued his good form and had 21 kicks and 12 handballs against his former club.
Premier Data team stats:
Storm 341, Dogs 304
Storm 40, Dogs 30.
Storm 117, Dogs 83.
Storm 41, Dogs 49.
Storm 65, Dogs 55.
Storm 69, Dogs 64.
Storm 27, Dogs 21.
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