Werribee has chalked up its fair share of memorable wins in its year on the road, but Sunday’s thrilling three-point victory over Port Melbourne at Craigieburn’s RAMS Arena may well have been the pick of the lot.
Trailing the fourth-placed Borough by 29 points early in the third term, the undermanned Tigers appeared on the verge of slipping to a third straight defeat and out of the top eight.
But a stunning seven-goal-to-one onslaught saw the “home” side charge into the lead by three-quarter time before holding off a late rally from the visitors to record a famous win.
It wasn’t the first time this season Werribee has required a rousing come-from-behind effort to secure victory, though no one could accuse it of being a little too slow out of the blocks on this occasion, the two sides trading early blows through the opening term.
Even as Port began to control the play through the second quarter, the sharp-shooting Tigers kept themselves in the contest by capitalising on their chances in front of goal to head into the main break with 7.1 to their name and trailing by 17 points.
It was only through consecutive goals after half time that the Borough appeared to have finally broken the resistance, Werribee by this stage two men down through injuries to Isaac Miller and Josh Corbett.
Instead, it provided the catalyst for a remarkable revival, Lindsay Thomas and Lachlan Hansen booting two goals each to lead the third-term scorefest and have their side five points clear by the final change.
Port wasn’t done yet, and what followed was a classic final-quarter arm-wrestle. When key forward Jordan Lisle booted his fifth and his side’s third in a row, the Borough held an eight-point lead and had more than a few hearts in Tiger mouths.
But a last-ditch effort from Werribee saw Tom Gribble and Cam Zurhaar each put through their second goal in quick succession to snatch back the lead in a heart-stopping finale.
Senior coach John Lamont lauded his side’s performance as its best of the year.
“It was an incredible second half,” said Lamont.
“We weren’t playing all that well in the first half and just after half time, but the boys certainly turned it around.
“It was a really even performance. To beat Port Melbourne out here in our home game was terrific. It was a really important win in terms of the season for us.”
In keeping with the theme of Werribee’s Player Parents Day, Lamont also paid tribute to the many parents who travelled from all across Victoria to attend the match.
“It was great to see,” he said.
“People had travelled from as far as Albury, Myrtleford, Bendigo, Mildura, and Strathmerton.
“To be able to talk to the whole playing list and the parents as well and then have that great performance made it a really important day.”
As might be expected of an All-Australian ruckman, Todd Goldstein was a standout performer in his second Werribee outing in as many weeks. He dominated the hitouts to finish with 56, collected 17 disposals, and took a number of important contested marks, two of which resulted in goals.
Thomas also played a key role up forward to finish with four goals, while Matt Hanson was again at his brilliant best, racking up 26 disposals, 10 clearances, and 11 tackles and maintaining his impeccable set-shot record with what proved to be a crucial goal early in the final term.
Adding to the feel-good factor of the day was a solid performance from Kurt Aylett, who collected 12 disposals in his first senior game since breaking his ankle more than 12 months ago.
The win sees the Tigers hold eighth place on the ladder, though they now sit a game clear of the ninth-placed Northern Blues and gain some much-needed breathing space after places six to nine had all been locked on 28 points going into the round.
The result wasn’t as positive for Werribee’s Development League side, which went down to Port Melbourne by 62 points earlier in the day.
In far more blustery conditions than those faced by their VFL counterparts hours later, the Tigers started promisingly against the ladder leaders, trailing by just seven points at the first change despite kicking into the breeze.
But they failed to capitalise with the wind at their backs in the second term, the Borough kicking 7.4 to take control of the game by half time.
Nick Buykx and Harry Boyd led the Werribee charge with strong performances in defence, while Corowa-Rutherglen product Jay O’Donoghue was also among the Tigers’ best in his first outing.
Werribee’s VFL side will get the opportunity to take to the famous turf of Etihad Stadium against Collingwood on Saturday, while the Development League side will square off against the Box Hill Hawks on Sunday for the second time in three weeks.
Peter Jackson VFL
Werribee: 4.0 7.1 14.2 17.3 (105)
Port Melbourne: 4.2 9.6 12.9 15.12 (102)
Werribee: L. Thomas 4, T. Gribble 2, L. Hansen 2, T. Goldstein 2, C. Zurhaar 2, J. Williams, J. Sharp, J. Anderson, M. Hanson, L. Pinnuck
Port Melbourne: J. Lisle 5, B. Pearson 3, S. Clarke 2, R. Nahas 2, T. Pinwill, A. Anastasio, T. O''Sullivan
Werribee: T. Goldstein, L. Thomas, R. Barrack, M. Hanson, M. Sodomaco, C. Zurhaar
Port Melbourne: L. Tynan, J. Lisle, S. Dwyer, T. Pinwill, T. O''Sullivan, L. Cook
AFL Victoria Development League
Werribee: 2.0 4.4 7.6 9.7 (61)
Port Melbourne: 2.7 9.11 13.15 19.19 (133)
Werribee: T. Ellard 2, P. Fairhead, J. Robinson, S. Amarantidis, H. Kershaw, B. Xavier, K. Galloway, A. Adams
Port Melbourne: S. De Soysa 4, B. Hogan 4, K. Haretuku 3, J. Gleeson 2, W. Goss 2, M. Hayes, D. Iaccarino, D. Houghton, M. Golby
Werribee: N. Buykx, H. Boyd, E. Petterwood, A. Liberatore, J. O'Donoghue, J. Robinson
Port Melbourne: M. Golby, A. Urban, M. Hayes, A. Krakauer, S. De Soysa, B. Hogan