You can’t get too fussy when you string together five wins on the trot, but the Werribee faithful are no doubt wishing they could breathe a little easier through their side’s final quarters.
The Tigers have had a few close calls through the course of their unbeaten run and had to endure another heart-stopper against their namesake on Saturday, holding on against Richmond to win by five points in a thriller at Beaconsfield.
The Werribee side that fronted up at Holm Park Reserve looked a much-improved outfit from that which struggled across the line against North Ballarat two weeks earlier, but it knew it faced a much sterner test in a Richmond side that had handed the Roosters a 189-point annihilation earlier in the season.
In the end, what followed was a similar sort of arm wrestle to the one that had played out at Eureka Stadium a fortnight earlier, albeit in a far less frustrating format. While Werribee never surrendered the lead after midway through the opening term, it was never able to put away a Richmond side that kept finding a response to each attempt to gain a clear foothold.
A 22-point margin approaching three-quarter time finally looked to have the visitors in control, but a late major to the home side turned the momentum in its favour, which saw it close to within a kick with minutes to spare in the final term.
Even a miraculous Tom Gribble snap goal from the pack in the dying stages wasn’t enough to ice the game, with Richmond finding a quick reply to leave Werribee hanging on for dear life as the final siren sounded.
Werribee coach John Lamont praised both the effort of his side to hold on for yet another close win and the persistence of his opponent.
“It was nip and tuck early on,” said Lamont.
“We got a little lead at quarter time, and then we were in front all day and had enough of the ball, but we just couldn’t put Richmond away.
“They kept at us all day, but I’m really pleased with our blokes.”
While Werribee had plenty of strong contributors throughout the day, it was the usual suspects who stood up in the heat of battle.
With 36 disposals, nine tackles, and six inside-50s, Andrew Swallow was a clear standout in the middle, but he received able support from Gribble and Matt Hanson, the latter seemingly unfazed by the added burden of captaincy after the withdrawal of skipper Michael Sodomaco.
Declan Mountford provided his usual tackling pressure and dash along the wing, while Dan Nielson, Ryley Barrack, and Sam Durdin were all resolute in defence.
The result sees Werribee sitting a game clear in fifth place on the ladder and equal on points with third-placed Williamstown and fourth-placed Northern Blues.
Having played out a thrilling draw against Williamstown a fortnight earlier, Werribee’s development team was unable to get the job done against the Seagulls the second time around, going down by 39 points at Burbank Oval.
The Tigers held a narrow advantage through the opening term before Williamstown’s forwards found their kicking boots after a wayward start to take control of the game through the second quarter.
Having entered the weekend’s match off a week’s break due to the VFL state game, Werribee’s senior and development sides will now both enjoy another chance to freshen up with a bye over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend before taking on the Northern Blues on Saturday, June 17 at Ikon Park.
2017 Peter Jackson VFL
Richmond: 3.1 6.2 7.6 10.7 (67)
Werribee: 4.5 6.7 9.8 10.12 (72)
Goals: Will Fordham, Jed Anderson 2, Tom Gribble, Matthew Hanson, Majak Daw, Mitchell Hibberd, Nick Larkey, Declan Mountford
Best: Daniel Nielson, Ryley Barrack, Andrew Swallow, Declan Mountford, Sam Durdin, Matthew Hanson
2017 AFL Victoria Development League
Williamstown: 2.7 8.9 11.13 16.16 (112)
Werribee: 4.3 6.6 8.7 11.7 (73)