Nar Nar Goon has kept its flickering finals hopes alive with a crunch win against rivals Koo Wee Rup.
The Goon trailed at the first two changes of ends but seized the initiative in the third term and ran out the game well to win 17.7 (109) to 13.13 (91).
Sam Blackwood was enormous for the home side, as was Troy McDermott, who booted a game-high five goals to help ensure the Goon stayed in touch with the top five.
The defeat dragged Koo Wee Rup deeper into the top five fight with only one game now separating the fifth-placed Demons from sixth-placed Bunyip, with the Goon trailing the Bulldogs on percentage.
Caleb Milojevic, Troy Dolan and Luke Walker were best for the Demons, who will be ruing the missed opportunity to put some space between themselves and the other finals aspirants, having controlled proceedings for large periods of the game.
The other key battle for the top five took place at Inverloch Recreation Reserve, where the home side celebrated Adam Cross’ milestone game with a 65-point win against Garfield.
Cross became the Sea Eagles’ senior games record holder with his 311th appearance in the blue and gold.
Oscar Toussaint and Toby Mahoney (four goals) starred in the 16.13 (109) to 7.2 (44) which lifted Inverloch Kongwak back to fourth on the ladder and ended a run of four games unbeaten for the surging Stars.
Tanner Stanton and Tyler Hobson were best for Garfield, which slipped back to eighth place – six points outside the five.
In among all that, Bunyip did what it needed to against Warragul Industrials, winning 17.7 (109) to 6.7 (43) and using the percentage boost to jump back into sixth spot.
Michael Whyte, Nathan Allen and Cleyton Bertoncello (five goals) were in fine touch for the Yips, while Tyson Bale (three goals), Will Gibson and Travis Ogden continued their good form for the Dusties.
The top three continued on their merry ways.
Ladder leader Phillip Island marked the opening of its new changerooms with a 16.16 (112) to 5.2 (32) win against Korumburra Bena.
Cameron Pedersen (six goals) was dominant again, with Jason Tomada and Brendan Kimber also prominent.
Giants skipper Ben Fitzpatrick, Alex Johnston and Rhys Dixon (three goals) leading the visitors’ resistance.
Dalyston unveiled their new social rooms against Tooradin Dalmore but the Seagulls crashed the Magpies’ party with a 21.10 (136) to 8.4 (52) victory.
Julian Suarez (four goals), Luke McKenna and Adam Galea were red hot for the visitors, while Darcy Brosnan, Ryan Silver and Luke Wakefield caught the eye for Dalyston.
The biggest win of round 13 went to Cora Lynn, which blitzed Kilcunda Bass 24.19 (163) to 7.5 (47) on the back of 10 goals from competition leading goalkicker Nathan Gardiner.
Jaxon Briggs, Nathan Langley and Travis Woodfield were also on song for the Cobras, while Shelton Rosario, Damien Holmes and Jake Joyce battled hard for the Panthers.
On the netball courts, all eyes were on Dalyston to see if the reigning premier could find a chink in the armour of undefeated ladder leader Tooradin Dalmore.
The answer was far from clear cut, with the Magpies pushing the Seagulls all the way but ultimately falling short 45-49.
The visitors rose to the challenge and kept their perfect record intact but received a timely reminder that the race for the A Grade flag is not yet run, particularly given Dalyston has not finished the home-and-away season on top of the ladder in any of the last three years.
Inverloch Kongwak found its way back into the top five courtesy of a percentage-boosting win at home against Garfield.
Meg Evans was on fire, registering 47 goals with support from Millie Sadler (11) and Kasey Teakle (15) in the 73-24 victory.
The Sea Eagles’ gain was at the expense Koo Wee Rup, which came up short against Nar Nar Goon.
The Demons shaded a tight opening quarter on the back of some sharp shooting from Mariah Bell, but the Goon took control in the second, effecting a seven-goal swing to lay the foundations for a 54-42 win.
Hollie Keysers and Olivia Cope shared the scoring load with 27 goals apiece, while Bell finished with a game-high 31 for the visitors.
The win tightened Nar Nar Goon’s grip on fourth spot, while pushing the Demons from fifth to seventh, below Bunyip which continued its quest to regain a spot in the five with a 50-37 win against fellow finals hopeful Warragul Industrials.
Jasmin Mackie was superb again, with 41 of the Yips’ goals, while Lara Commadeur was once again prominent for the Dusties with 21.
The result put two games between Bunyip and the eighth-placed Dusties with five rounds to play.
Phillip Island ensured Korumburra Bena didn’t have it all its own way on its visit to Cowes Recreation Reserve.
The Giants led at every change, following a monster 19-13 opening term, but the Island was able to hit double digits every quarter to ensure scoreboard pressure remained constant.
However, Korumburra Bena had all the answers, with Chloe Hogg (30 goals) and Kimberley Hillberg (27) in fine form to lead their team to a 57-45 win.
The Giants moved within a game of second-placed Dalyston, while the Island remain 10th.
In the final game of the round, Cora Lynn held off a strong challenge from Kilcunda Bass 39-31 to shore up ninth spot.
Round 14 promises to provide another layer of intrigue, with more key battles in the finals race.
The match up between Inverloch Kongwak and Bunyip looms as equally crucial on the football field and netball court.
Four points separates the pair in fourth and sixth on the senior ladder and a win would be significant for either side’s finals aspirations.
Both teams have been dealing with a raft of injuries to key personnel.
The Sea Eagles will be hoping to regain the likes of Cam Roughead, Lewis Rankin and Michael Eales, while captain Tom Wyatt is still working his way back, having missed the past six weeks.
For the Bulldogs, Ricky Clark, Reid Jenkin and Jason Williams missed last week’s clash with the Dusties, joining the likes of Ben Ross, Daniel Mislicki, Brandon Allen and Brent Heus on the sidelines, with Aaron Paxton and Nathan Lieshout having missed a month and 11 games respectively.
Inverloch Kongwak took the points in the reverse fixture at Bunyip in round three and the Bulldogs will need to limit the home side’s supply into its tall forward line this time around.
Bunyip’s ferocious attack on the contest has been a feature this season and getting on top at the stoppages would go a long way to getting the game on its own terms.
The margins are even finer in the A Grade, with only percentage separating the fifth-placed Sea Eagles from the sixth-placed Yips.
Bunyip has recovered from a disastrous run and a win here would provide a great platform for the final stretch.
The battle between Yips goaler Jasmin Mackie and Sea Eagles defender Linsey Boddy looms as decisive.
Koo Wee Rup’s seniors side’s final credentials will be firmly to the test when it begins a torrid run of games.
The Demons face the top three sides in succession, starting with the visit of Cora Lynn this weekend.
In the other games, Garfield hosts Phillip Island, Nar Nar Goon takes on Dalyston, Tooradin Dalmore hosts Kilcunda Bass and Warragul Industrials meets Korumburra Bena.