With scores level late in the Murray Football League contest between Moama and Rumbalara, the scene was set.
All the clash needed to become an instant classic was for a hero to stand up and drag his side across the line.
The Magpies found their hero in Liam Ritchie — but Rumba’s Marlon Johnstone almost managed to spoil the party with the final kick of the game.
‘‘It was even with a few minutes to play, but the ball was stuck in Rumba’s forward 50,’’ Moama coach Mark Lloyd said.
‘‘We were just able to hit a couple of targets coming out and got it to Liam Ritchie on the wing.
‘‘He took a good mark, got around a couple of players and took a few bounces, but he didn’t have anyone in front of him so he put it on the boot and it didn’t make the distance.
‘‘He followed it up and smothered the Rumba player’s kick and after a few scrambled handballs it got back to Ritchie and he kicked the goal.’’
Ritchie’s triple-effort lifted the Magpies into the lead by one straight kick, with both teams then trading behinds to seemingly finish the game.
But on Moama’s kick in a free kick to Johnstone was picked out just outside Rumba’s forward arc.
With the final siren ringing in his ears and a stiff breeze at his back, the young Rumba star gave his shot everything, but it was punched away in the goal square to leave his side unable to share the points.
‘‘Marlon was pretty down on himself after the game, but it was a really tough kick,’’ Rumbalara coach Kane Atkinson said.
‘‘It was pretty tough conditions with the wind favouring one end all day.
‘‘We had the wind in the last quarter, but couldn’t capitalise in the end. We were pretty happy to be in the contest, but we had our opportunities and couldn’t quite grab them in the end.
‘‘We shouldn’t have been in the position to have to rely on Marlon to draw the game after the siren, but there were still a lot of positives.’’
The Magpies led at every change despite the match being a see-sawing affair, with the strong wind dictating which side won each term.
Stars Tyler Jones, Angus Grigg and Rhys Archard all shone brightly for the home side at Moama Recreation Reserve, with Lloyd excited for what his charges could produce in the next phase of the season.
‘‘We’re 3-3 now and we’ve definitely had an inconsistent start to the season, but we feel like we’re starting to put some good footy together,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘It is a bit of natural progression for the group, we had a fair turnover of players over the off-season and it’s taken a bit to jell.
‘‘With a top eight this year there’s a little bit more room to move, so we hope to keep progressing as the boys continue to gain more confidence.’’
For Rumba, Justin and Nathan Terlich were brilliant once again, as was Ash Miller and Atkinson himself.
‘‘Justin Terlich was far and away our best player,’’ Atkinson said.
‘‘He would have had 40 touches and cut off a lot of Moama entries just floating across half-back.’’
The final scoreboard read 12.13 (85) to 11.13 (79) in Moama’s favour.