Eltham remain on top of the MC Labour Division 2 ladder after claiming one of their most important wins of the season, defeating Lower Plenty by one-point in a thriller at Montmorency Park South Oval.
The 15.5 (95) to 13.16 (94) nail-biting victory was the Panthers’ seventh-straight win, and they have now defeated every team in the competition in just 10 matches.
After two late goals reduced the deficit to a single point, Lower Plenty had a chance to take the lead in the dying stages of the match when Darcy Barden had a shot on goal.
But it was Darcy Vallance who was the hero for Eltham, taking a game saving mark on the goal line with the siren sounding moments later.
It could prove to be a costly loss for the Bears as they now sit six-points out of the top-three with eight rounds remaining.
Daniel Horsfield was Eltham’s best in the victory, dominating at stoppages with his clearance work, as well as kicking three majors, all of which were kicked in the first term.
Luke Sirianni continued his great form, he provided plenty of run and kicked three goals to boost his side, highlighted by two classy running goals. Sirianni has now been named in the Panthers’ best players in three straight games and looks an important part of Eltham’s future.
Lane Sinclair and Darcy Vallance also produced solid performances in defence for the Panthers, the pair took multiple intercept marks and created plenty of rebound out of defensive 50.
Despite the result, Tom Keys was incredible for Lower Plenty, winning a substantial number of clearances out of the centre and at stoppages. He also went forward at times and finished with four majors.
Tom Blake dominated in the ruck for the Bears, he took multiple contested marks across the ground throughout the day, and his presence was also felt at ground level. Tyler Wallace also had a great game finishing with four goals.
Lower Plenty started the afternoon well, dominating centre clearances, but they were unable to convert their chances into goals.
Horsfield kicked the opening major of the game before Keys and Corey Sleep were able to kick the next two goals for the Bears.
Eltham then quickly regained control of the contest, piling on the last four goals of the opening quarter and were able to take a 16-point lead into the first break.
The second term was back and forth between the two sides, and the Panthers were able to maintain their lead and head into the main break with an 18-point advantage.
Lower Plenty took it right up to the ladder leaders throughout the second stanza of the match, but an inaccurate 3.5 meant they couldn’t snatch back the lead.
As a result, Eltham started to break away in the third quarter and quickly got out to a game high margin of 24-points.
But Tom Keys was able to convert two set shots in the dying stages of the term and cut the lead to just 12-points at three quarter time, giving the home side all the momentum heading into the final break.
As the fourth quarter begun, Bronson Glasgow kicked the major of the day, with a running goal from the pocket. That put the visitors back out to 18 points.
The Bears then went on a late charge and looked like they might steal a victory out of the Panthers hands.
Ben Paterson and Ciaran Porter converted two set shots in the final minutes to cut the lead to just one-point.
But co-captain Darcy Vallance’s heroics on the goal line was enough to hand Robert Hyde’s side their ninth win of the season.