A SPIRITED Natimuk won its first match of the Horsham District Football League season on Saturday, beating Pimpinio by two points in a see-sawing battle at Pimpinio Recreation Reserve.
The final quarter had everything with the lead changing hands eight times.
Natimuk led at every change and started the final quarter with a three-point lead.
Pimpinio coach Mathew Everett pleaded with his players to lift and take their chances at the last break.
“We can’t rest on our laurels. We can win this game,” he told his charges.
Darcy O’Connor goaled to put the Tigers in front in the first minute of the last quarter.
Pimpinio asked the question of Natimuk: could the side who has been rocked with injury hold on?
Rams coach Brett Whitley had faith in his side in a tense final term.
“I honestly never thought we’d lose,” he said.
“I thought we’d keep coming back, just from the way we started the game and we had played throughout the game.
“Even when we got scored against we never dropped our heads.”
Natimuk responded to losing its lead, kicking the next two goals to take a nine-point advantage.
Pimpinio wasn’t done yet, piling on the next three goals to find itself ahead by nine points.
Natimuk showed fight, kicking the next two goals to take back the lead.
Dylan Baker provided a strong presence in the Pimpinio forward line and kicked his fifth goal of the match to put the Tigers back in front.
With the match on the line, both sides were desperate and the crowd was getting involved, riding every kick with the players.
Jono Lovel had been one of Natimuk’s best all day and led from the front, kicking a goal to put the Rams in front by three points.
Lively Pimpinio talent Sam Turmine answered within a minute, kicking his fifth goal of the match to regain the lead for the Tigers.
A 50-metre penalty at half-forward enabled Ash Pekin to kick his second goal of the quarter, putting Natimuk back in front in the dying stages.
Pimpinio won the centre clearance, getting the ball into its forward line to Baker.
With seconds left on the clock, Baker’s shot on goal looked home, only to hit the goal post.
It reduced the Tiger’s deficit to two points.
Pimpinio had another chance to score, with a Natimuk player over-stepping the goal square on the kick-out, creating a ball-up at the top of Pimpinio’s goal square.
The final siren sounded with the ball still in Pimpinio’s forward 50, leaving Tigers’ players on their knees with disappointment, while Natimuk celebrated a breakthrough win.
Natimuk supporters rushed onto the field in celebration and it was standing room only in the club’s change rooms as club supporters, junior players and netballers joined their senior players to belt out the club song with gusto.
“This win sends a real message we’re a struggling club but we are never going to give in,” Whitley said.
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