There could not have been more contrasting emotions at Lancaster on Saturday.
Stanhope was celebrating one of its gutsiest wins in years, while the Wombats were left devastated after giving up a 30-point lead midway through the final quarter.
Lancaster looked to be home when coach Nick Bertoli, who was playing his 250th senior game, booted the Wombats’ second goal after leading 17 points at three-quarter-time.
But the Lions found something else to storm home with the last six goals of the match in extraordinary circumstances.
After being well held early, Jack Exell came alive to boot four goals as Stanhope coach Brenton Gray tinkered with the set-up.
‘‘It was pretty congested and we tried to open it right up, we changed a couple of running backs to the wings and locked the ball inside our 50,’’ Gray said.
‘‘The belief in the group to deliver the way they did was sensational.
‘‘Once they got the first couple of goals, the crowd got behind them and it is one of the greatest wins I’ve been involved in at the club.’’
Considering Gray has been at the club for a large part of his life, that statement has a lot of weight.
‘‘We spoke about it before the game that they (Lancaster) are fast starters and kick plenty of goals early, so to hold them out and build from there gave us a bit of confidence,’’ Gray said.
‘‘We’ve still got 23 players out from the seniors and the reserves, so there’s been a few blokes come out of retirement to help out the twos.’’
Vice captain Lukas Hanslow was terrific for the entire game, as was Jye Patten with a four-goal haul.
Michael Coad’s move into the ruck during the last quarter helped the Lions, while Jayden Exell, Simon Collis and Alec Young put in strong performances.
Bertoli said it was a ‘‘hard pill to swallow’’.
‘‘It was a complete turnaround and I’m not sure why it happened, it was just a momentum thing and we couldn’t hold them out and get a clear run at the ball,’’ Bertoli said.
‘‘We went forward when we were 30 points up and had a chance to kick another goal to make it very hard for them, but we turned it over and then it all started for them.
‘‘Hopefully the younger players take a lesson out it and if we’re a situation like that again, then we’ll be able to handle it better.’’
It was the Wombats’ third straight defeat after losing to Avenel and Nagambie to make it an average losing margin of 10.6.
‘‘This is the most frustrating game because we were in a position to win, the other games we weren’t as much, but we were probably the better side for 3 quarters and didn’t win,’’ Bertoli said.
‘‘We’ve got to move on pretty quickly, as much as it hurts, because we’ve got Merrigum next weekend and that’s an eight-point game and huge for our finals chances.’’
Tannar Cerrone put in a Herculean display for the Wombats in the midfield, carrying on his brilliant form.
Michael Hill, Bertoli, Zach Cerrone, Chris Eddy and Steve Thomson also played well for Lancaster in the losing cause.
Alex Kydd, Brad Orr, Coby O’Neill and Brad Tinning are chances to return from injury to bolster the Wombats in coming weeks.