Euroa’s Goulburn Valley League season is back on track after edging out an eight-point win against Rochester on Saturday, in a Memorial Oval arm-wrestle neither side ever had true control of.
The Magpies were 10 points up at three-quarter-time, but things looked to be getting away from them as an undermanned Tiger unit kicked the first two goals of the last through Charlie Ward and Nick O’Connor, before big time players did it in the biggest of moments.
Firstly, Magpie star JD Hayes smashed home a set shot from 55m, his finishing ability cooler than the other side of the pillow.
His goal gave Euroa a six-point break and fellow magician Lewin Davis doubled the advantage soon after, taking two bounces and slotting it from the pocket for a game-changing major.
Tiger Wil Hamilton, clearly his side’s most dangerous player throughout, pulled a goal back, but it was too little, too late as Euroa held on.
Celebrating his first win in charge of the club’s seniors, Euroa coach Scott Rowan said the relief of avoiding an 0-2 start was his overriding emotion.
‘‘Relief would probably be the major thing, it was obviously a pretty big, scrappy fight all day,’’ he said.
‘‘So once the siren went, it was just relief to get that first win, evening the ledger was probably the most important thing.
‘‘There’s a massive difference (between 0-2 and 1-1). I couldn’t be happier really — I know it was scratchy and it wasn’t that clean at times, but it’s really good to get that win.’’
A bruising midfield battle all day, Rochester led early thanks to a brilliant start from Hamilton, with the youngster’s second goal a virtuoso solo performance that had him shrug off two tackles and go bang from 45m.
But Euroa had a forward focal point of its own, with Jett Trotter kicking four of his side’s first five goals and setting up the other, with his marking strength and reading of the play a joy to watch.
The lead changed a whopping six times in the first half; Euroa edged control mostly, but struggled to make it count, with the Tigers’ counter-attack slicing them up like a hot knife through butter that was good for a five-point half-time lead.
Euroa found an extra gear to start the third with its running power creating chances, with a miraculous mid-air strike from Nate Trotter the opener before a 50m penalty helped Davis create a 12-point gap.
But again the Tigers kicked back, with a silky snap from Andy Henderson and roving brilliance from Doug Wren knotting things up, before Magpie Robbie Wilson struck gold from distance to restore his side’s advantage.
Rowan paid tribute to the silkiness of Hayes and Davis under pressure, with the duo lifting the group to find a way to win when it seemed the game might slip away.
‘‘You saw them both stand up, they both kicked a pretty clutch goal in the last quarter,’’ he said.
‘‘They were fantastic, each player has their moments, but they both stepped up in the last quarter.
‘‘It’s been a bit of a trend the past couple of weeks. The boys, where in previous years they might have rolled over, they’ve actually really fought back to get back into the game.
‘‘It’s probably one of our biggest improvements for the year so far, the belief to fight back no matter what situation we’re in.’’
Euroa’s defence held up well, with Adam Giobbi playing a starring role, while Ben Harrison, Gus Varley and David Mole all accumulating plenty of the ball.
Brayden Frost was another standout, but Jett Trotter’s first-half magic earned him the best-on-ground nod, generating virtually all his side’s early scoring. Euroa heads to the high country to face Mansfield next weekend.