A smother with seconds remaining ensured premiers Wollongong Lions held off a stunning Bulldogs fightback in Saturday’s AFL South Coast thriller at North Dalton Park.
With the Dogs deep in attack and trailing by four points, Jack Nugent’s act of desperation denied any hope of a late winning goal.
The Lions, who led by 30 points at half-time, prevailed 7.9 (51) to 7.5 (47) to effectively slam the door shut on the Dogs, in their pursuit of a top-two finish.
“They really took us on in the second half there and we just didn’t react,” Lions’ coach Ray Burgess said.
“And they played really well to get back in it, but it’s was great to hold on in the end.
“If we’d been 8.5 at half-time, we probably would have already put the game away, but being 5.8 it gave them a sniff and they really came out hard in the second half.
“It just shows how close this top four has become.”
As the Lions wait to bring a number of key players back before finals, they also suffered a setback, with Harrison Freund suffering an ankle injury likely to keep him out for several weeks.
But Kyle Veerhuis, who finished with three and Jake Hogarth led the Lions’ first-half onslaught.
Figtree had to dig deep in the second half to overcome Northern Districts, after the Tigers led by three points at half-time.
In the other game, Kiama marched to a 105-point demolition of Shellharbour, to extend their percentage lead over the Lions in the minor premiership race.