STAWELL were challenged by Ararat in the final round of the season but still managed to return to winning form before finals.
The Warriors stole momentum away from the Rats at the end of the third quarter before going on to secure the 13.7.85 to 10.9.69 win.
Rats coach Terry Keilar said he was proud of the way his side fought out the match.
“We let ourselves down with a couple of errors but the boys contested well and put in their best effort,” he said.
“It was a good effort in the last game of the year but it wasn’t quite good enough.”
Stawell jumped out of the gates to establish a lead in a first quarter before Ararat managed to steady the ship.
13-points separated the sides at quarter time and the pre-game favourites managed to maintain the lead for much of the contest
“We were pretty even for majority of the game,” Keilar said.
“They got away early in the first quarter and held a couple of goal lead all the way lead through until three-quarter time.”
After slipping behind by 18-points at half time momentum swung the way of the Rats in the third quarter.
The side was more accountable in order to chip away at the lead.
“In the first half we weren’t really accountable and when we were going forward our entries were really shallow, we weren’t really attacking our goal square,” Keilar said.
“In that third quarter we were a lot more accountable, laid a lot more tackles and performed more pressure acts but also the boys were entering into the forward 50 better and with more structure.”
The home side edged in front toward the end of the third quarter before Stawell managed to kick the final goal to steal the lead and halt Ararat’s momentum.
“We thought we were a bit of a chance trailing by just a goal going into the last quarter but to Stawell’s credit they kicked a couple of goals in that final quarter to give them the win,” Keilar said.
Brent Tuckey’s presence up forward was a big factor in the win. Keilar said his side was winning enough of the ball but Stawell were just cleaner going forward.
“When Stawell went forward they had Tuckey who was clunking them and giving them really strong options,” he said.
“He really played good footy for them. I think that was the main difference, when they went forward their forward line was a lot cleaner than our forward line.”
Nick Mendes set the standard for Ararat throughout the contest, with good support coming from Jack Ganley and Jake Robinson.
“They played really good football and so did young Grady Slocombe who was again fantastic for a young kid. He’s had a brilliant season,” Keilar said.
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