It took Barooga longer than expected to shake off a spirited Rumbalara outfit on Saturday.
The Hawks eventually prevailed 15.12 (102) to 9.3 (57) at Rumba’s Mercury Dve, but with only nine points in the game at the main change, Tyrone Downie’s and James Hazelman’s men were made to work hard for their valuable victory.
The co-coaches performed outstandingly, with Downie kicking a match-high four goals and Hazelman named the Hawks’ best.
Eight Barooga troops hit the scoreboard in the win, with Tom Wilkinson’s three majors the next best haul behind Downie.
Tim Brooks, Jack O’Callaghan and Jake Russell were also among the best for the Hawks, who have moved back into third position on the Murray Football League ladder.
For the home side, Ash Miller, Jarrod Atkinson, Cameron Mahoney, Nathan Kerr, Marlon Johnstone (three goals) and Kane Atkinson impressed.
●Echuca United lifted itself into fifth spot on the table with an 18.11 (119) to 9.10 (64) win against Finley, in the process opening the door for what would be a tantalising finals match-up in three weekends.
The situation could have been much worse for the Cats after trailing by 59 points at half-time, but the home side increased its output after the break to win the second half.
Tim Meulendyks, Charles Hawkins, Scott Jewell, Nick Campbell, Luke Moore and Lachie Hawkins all helped Finley continue to showcase its improvement from the start of the season, with the first fixture between these teams resulting in a 144-point victory to the Eagles.
The Cats’ final score was also their third highest of the year from 16 matches.
Farran Priest (six goals) and Anthony McMahon (four) proved dangerous in attack for the Eagles, with Corey Wanganeen, Duane Hueston, Jamie Ferguson, Phil Hubbard and Bailey Sawyer also dominant.
With Moama occupying fourth position and the second elimination final scheduled to be played at Moama Recreation Reserve, supporters of both sides would be hoping the table stays the way it is for the chance of another thrilling chapter to be written into the history books of this storied rivalry.