By Jonty Ralphsmith
It was a win Hampton Park just needed to get.
In a fifth v sixth clash with East Brighton, the reward for the winner was sitting a game clear inside the top five with two rounds to play in the home and away season.
Tight all day, it came down to who could hold their nerve for longer in the final quarter…it was the Redbacks who got the job done on East Brighton’s home turf by four points.
East Brighton had the breeze in the last, putting pressure on the Redbacks to hold up defensively as both sides had done all day.
East Brighton kicked the first goal of the final quarter before Hampton Park kicked the next two to be a few points in front.
Despite controlling the play and having the territory for a large portion of the final quarter, Hampton Park was unable to extend the lead beyond a goal, leading to a tense climax.
A Jackson Philpin intercept mark for Hampton Park in stoppage time proved crucial, as it prevented a contested mark and set shot from a gettable position, and denied East Brighton’s crumbing forwards.
In the dying seconds, East Brighton executed an end-to-end play giving the Vampires a deep entry, with a rushed behind rolling through as the siren went.
“That win was made of something pretty deep down inside them, it was a special win especially with what was on the line, with pretty much a finals spot on the line.,” Redbacks’ coach Nathan Wilson said.
Ryan Hillard produced another excellent performance in the midfield, alongside Makaio Haywood who kicked three goals, while Luke Sloan played a negative role on respected Vampire Kai Love-Linay, combatting his influence.
Many of East Brighton’s nine shots in the first quarter were straight forward, but only three were converted keeping the Redbacks within eight points.
From there, the visitors belief did not waiver.
“We were really disappointed with the first quarter but then to fight back and win the second quarter and get it back to level at halftime got us back in the contest and was really important in giving us something to work with,” Wilson said.
“The resilience of the group is outstanding – there has been a couple of situations this year where we have had to tough out some tricky situations and been able to do it.
“We clocked the month of July so the momentum and feeling around the playing group is amazing.
“We had our full strength squad for the first time in my two years there so we’re just peaking at the right time I believe.”
Both Hampton Park and East Brighton have a bye in the last two weeks – the only way that the Redbacks could fall out would be if they lose to fourth-placed Caulfield next weekend and the Vampires upset the commanding Chelsea Heights in the last round.
Chelsea Heights sneaked to victory over Keysborough by nine points.
There was two points in it at three-quarter-time and a two goal to one final quarter got the ladder-leaders the win
Bradley Gilder’s four goals continues his rich goalkicking form as he has reached that mark in each of his last five games.
All of Keysborough goals came via its two star goal kickers – Matthew Carnelley kicked five and Tom Shaw’s four means he finished with 26 majors in the month of July.
Travis Woodfield’s five goals helped Doveton to a 43-point win over Skye.
The Doves bounced back from their loss last week, on top from the outset and entering quarter time with a 20-point lead.
Max Sheppard, Jake Besa and Laiver Qerim were named in the best for Doveton.
Caulfield got up by 47 points against Highett.
James Backway (7 goals) and Chris Smith (6) were important in the resounding victory.
LADDER: Chelsea Heights 52, Doveton 48, Keysborough 40, Caulfield 36, Hampton Park 30, East Brighton 26, Highett 20, Skye 4, Heatherton 0.
FIXTURE: Caulfield v Hampton Park, Doveton v Highett, Heatherton v Chelsea, Keysborough v Skye.