Nelson Bay have come from 22 points down and kicked a last-minute goal to narrowly defeat Wyong Lakes and keep their Black Diamond AFL finals aspirations alive.
Mark Spencer booted the match-winning major with 25 seconds remaining, putting the Marlins ahead by two points and now edging closer to the equal seventh-placed Magpies on the competition ladder.
Visiting Nelson Bay 10.14 (74) then held on to prevail over Wyong Lakes 10.12 (72) at Don Small Oval on Saturday.
“If we lost that game it was pretty much out of finals contention for us,” Marlins coach Sean McGrath said.
“It was definitely a must win.”
Hosts the Magpies kicked a behind to double their existing one-point advantage in the closing stages before Nelson Bay moved the ball down field and Spencer took the mark.
“He [Spencer] was about 45 metres out and pretty much in front,” McGrath said.
“It was a wet, heavy ball but he hit it pretty sweet.”
The Marlins trailed 0.5 (5) to 4.3 (27) at quarter time, but managed six goals in the second to draw level at 42 points apiece by the main break. It was 58-all heading into the fourth and final term.
“We were probably on top early, but just couldn’t get any scores on the board,” McGrath said.
“They got on a run of three or four goals and hit the lead. We came back in the second. And it kept going in waves for the rest of the game.”
Spencer’s result-sealing goal was his fourth for the game. Justin McPhan kick the same amount for Wyong Lakes.
McGrath nominated Spencer, midfielder Jayden Rymer and defender David Wood as Nelson Bay’s three best players.
Pat Callery (neck) left the field injured in the third quarter and went to hospital that night for scans, but was cleared of any major damage. Gordon Young went off soon after with concussion.
The top-seven finals series starts on August 11.
Elsewhere in round-nine encounters on Saturday and defending champions Terrigal Avoca 32.18 (210) annihilated Maitland 0.2 (2) by 208 points, Cardiff 13.13 (91) continued their unbeaten run for 2018 this time against Gosford 1.9 (15) while fifth-placed Singleton 17.13 (115) easily accounted for winless Lake Macqurie 6.2 (38).
The fixture between Newcastle City and Warners Bay was washed out at No.1 Sportsground with no covers being used this week to cover the cricket pitch. At this stage the match will not be replayed.
Killarney Vale had the bye.
LADDER: Cardiff (100%); Terrigal Avoca (87.5); Newcastle City (85.71); Warners Bay (57.14); Gosford, Singleton (50); Killarney Vale, Wyong Lakes (37.5); Nelson Bay (33.3); Maitland (12.5); Lake Macquarie (0).