Lalor recorded its second win of the season by defeating Reservoir in arctic conditions at Lalor Reserve.
The Bloods were the dominant side all day but were only leading by four points at the final break.
The home side had led by as much as 23 points in the third term, but three late goals to Reservoir’s Samuel McDowell, Lachlan Shaw and Thomas Stoneham reduced the margin to under a goal.
The Reservoir players looked confident they could break their winless drought, which has spanned 343 days.
Mustangs coach Aaron Collins implored his players to take the game on through the middle of the ground, as the win was theirs for the taking.
But just as it appeared Reservoir would snatch the victory, the Bloods held resolute to keep their opponents goalless in the final term and kick four goals of their own to record a 9.18 (72) to 5.10 (40) win.
Alex Dao was a presence in midfield and accumulated plenty of the ball, while Tim Murphy and Luke Kelly both kicked two goals for the Bloods.
Lachlan Shaw was Reservoir’s only multiple goal kicker, while Paul Cluney was a rock in the last line of defence and stopped many of Lalor’s attacking entries.
The game was billed as the battle to avoid the wooden spoon, as one game separated the eighth-placed Bloods and the ninth-placed Mustangs.
Both sides struggled to adjust to the windy conditions in the opening term and there were plenty of turnovers.
The defence of both sides dominated the contest, making it hard for any team to hit the scoreboard.
Daniel Moore took a fine contested mark and kicked the opening goal of the game for the Bloods, before Jye Collins kicked the Mustangs first goal.
Dao showed his class in the opening term, finding his targets by foot while most struggled in the tricky conditions. Dao was on hand to help Luke Kelly and Christian Pisano hit the scoreboard to give the Bloods a 14-point lead at quarter time.
The Bloods looked the better side in the second term and began to show it on the scoreboard.
Lachlan Shaw snapped a superb goal from the boundary for the Mustangs, before the Bloods kicked two goals via Dean Angelkoski and Murphy.
Lalor’s momentum fell flat in the third term and were fortunate Reservoir didn’t capitalise on their drop in form.
It took until the 25th minute for the Mustangs to kick a goal, courtesy of McDowell and from there they kicked two more in five minutes to edge their way back into the game.
Lalor showed composure in the final term to ensure they held onto the victory. The Bloods defence, led by Anthony Velicki stood strong to quash any Reservoir attacking threats.
Murphy and Kelly provided speed in the forward half to create chaos for the Mustangs defenders and both capitalised by kicking goals.
Issac Edgar slotted home a goal out of nothing from 45 metres out to secure the victory for the Bloods.
Lalor heads into the bye on a high, while Reservoir will aim to break its winless streak when it hosts Mernda – who it led at three quarter time in their previous encounter.
Final score: Lalor 9.18 (72) def Reservoir 5.10 (40)