Eaglehawk boosted its BFNL top-three prospects with a 15-point win over Sandhurst at the QEO on Saturday.
While it was far from a vintage performance, the 14.13 (97) to 11.16 (82) victory went some way to quashing the ghosts of games past.
More often than not in the past 15 months the Hawks have been on the wrong end of close results.
On several occasions in the second half on Saturday it looked as though the Dragons could overrun the Borough and inflict another loss in a crunch game, but the Hawks held firm to record their fourth win of the season and are now just percentage behind third-placed Golden Square.
"A focus throughout pre-season, and early in the piece, was winning those close games,'' an elated Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson said.
"It's something that we've worked hard on to make sure that we have a trigger to pull when we get in those situations.
"When you play good teams you're not going to control the game for four quarters, so how you weather the storm and throw something back at them is really important."
Read more: Saturday scoreboard
Had Eaglehawk lost the match, they would have looked back with frustration on a 10-minute patch to end the first half.
For much of the first half the Hawks looked as though they were in for a comfortable day.
Their pressure was good, they had multiple options forward of centre and they were making Sandhurst pay for a multitude of skill errors and poor decisions.
When Borough skipper Shaun Knott kicked his first goal of the game midway through the second quarter, the Hawks led by four goals and it was hard to see how Sandhurst's makeshift forward line was going to be able to kick a winning score.
The game turned on its head in the final 10 minutes of the term and the Dragons could have gone into the main break in front.
They had the final seven scoring shots of the half, but only walked away with 2.5 from their period of dominance and had to settle for a seven-point deficit at half-time.
In the opening two minutes of the third term, Sandhurst star Lee Coghlan somehow evaded a couple of tacklers at a forward 50 stoppage and snapped a goal to put the Dragons within one point.
With the Dragons up and about, the Hawks needed a spark and they got it from the energetic Sam Thompson.
Thompson ran back with the flight of the ball to and halved a crucial one-on-one contest that looked set to be an easy Sandhurst mark.
The ball spilled to the ground and was picked up by Lewin Davis, who handballed to Thompson and the Borough premiership player ran through 50 and kicked a team-lifting goal.
A Sandhurst turnover in the middle of the ground saw the Hawks surge the ball forward where Knott found space deep in the pocket in front of the South Bendigo social rooms.
The big man decided against passing and from the boundary split the middle for his second goal of the match.
Two minutes later the Hawks exploded to a 19-point lead when Ben Thompson kicked truly from a set shot 45m out.
It said plenty about the Dragons' make-up that they didn't roll over.
After struggling to find a key avenue to goal all day, Joel Wharton gave the Dragons a lifeline.
He kicked two goals and the impressive Noah Walsh kicked a fine snap to bring the margin back to six points in time-on of the third term.
Sandhurst's momentum, not for the first time, was eroded by poor decision making and sub-par skill execution.
A turnover gifted Liam Marciano his second goal of the term, while Zac Pallpratt's goal for Sandhurst from a reversed free kick was offset by another shocking Dragon turnover that led to a Darcy Richards goal seconds before the three quarter-time siren.
The 14-point margin at three quarter-time was extended to 20 points when Richards kicked the crucial first goal of the final term.
Once again it was Joel Wharton who kept Sandhurst in the game.
The left-footer kicked two goals in two minutes to get the Dragons back within eight points.
For the next eight minutes of play the Dragons had control of the ball and the Hawks were in defensive mode.
The Dragons played into Eaglehawk's hands by bombing away inside 50 and the Borough had plenty of numbers back.
Midway through the final term, Eaglehawk ruckman Clayton Holmes produced one of the plays of the day to break Sandhurst's resistance.
Holmes won a hit-out on the grandstand wing, followed up and won possession of the ball and handballed to the running Sean Williams, who found Corey Roberts 15m out in front of goal.
Roberts' goal proved to be the final major of the match.
With key forwards Cobi Maxted (Collingwood VFL) and Sean O'Farrell (broken hand) missing, Sandhurst's lack of connectivity going forward was telling, but not as telling as a turnover list as long as the Flemington straight.
"I'm really disappointed for the players because they try so hard, they're a great group, they give enormous effort, they deserve to get a result from a game like this one, but if the skill execution and decision making is like that then we'll continue to have games where we fall a couple of goals short,'' Sandhurst coach Ashley Connick said.
"We understand that it didn;t help having Sean injured and Cobi getting a call-up, but we were disappointed with the way we used the ball.
"To Eaglehawk's credit, when they got their opportunities they made the most of them."
Eaglehawk 4.4, 6.6, 12.10, 14.13 (97)
Sandhurst 2.3, 4.11, 9.14, 11.16 (82)
Best - Eaglehawk: Noah Wheeler, Kobe Lloyd, Oscar Madden, Billy Evans, Zack Bulger, Dillon Williams.
Sandhurst: Alex Wharton, Noah Walsh, Lee Coghlan, Joel Wharton, James Coghlan, Hamish Hosking.
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