From Ballarat Courier
Reported by Melanie Whelan
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A FOCUSED North Ballarat claimed a pivotal seven-point win over Williamstown in the VFL at Burbank Oval yesterday.
This lifts the Selkirk Roosters above the Seagulls and into the top eight for the first time since the opening round.
It also gives North Ballarat five wins in its past six games after being one in six.
The win did not come easy, with North Ballarat digging deep in the closing minutes.
The Roosters’ backline locked down as Williamstown persisted.
Well into time-on, with the Roosters seven points up, the Seagulls sent the ball near the goal face and reliable full back Michael Searl, in the fashion of the back six all match, repelled the ball.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald praised his team’s resilience.
FitzGerald also said that, importantly, his team showed it had learnt its lesson from a tight finish and one-point loss to Casey earlier this season.
“There was that late (Jamie) McNamara goal and a lot of stoppages but I still thought we could win the ball, stop them and close out the game,” FitzGerald said.
“We learnt a lot against Casey – more about handling pressure situations and the need to be able to absorb time.”
Wet conditions troubled both teams, each creating blatant turnovers at the seaside location.
The Roosters controlled most play in the first quarter but midway through the term, three leaked goals from quick clearances kept the Seagulls in touch and five points down at quarter-time.
Solid defensive pressure and wayward Seagull kicking helped the Roosters avoid trouble in the second.
Williamstown only chalked up nine behinds for the term and the Roosters, with 1.4, kept the edge at the main break.
Promoted ruck Sam Conroy dominated the tap with 55 hit-outs, more than the Seagulls’ combined tally.
Midfielders Myles Sewell (28 touches) and Ben Cunnington (34 touches) relentlessly pushed the ball forward where Cunnington booted a match-high four goals.
The second half became a battle for control – one team would boot a goal and the other would reply.
The Roosters full-field defensive pressure and determination, buoyed by confidence of winning it past three matches, steadied the team under fire.
Victory sets up a bumper clash against a dangerous Bendigo, which arrives at Eureka Stadium on Saturday off a bye round.
North Ballarat 11.11 (77)
Williamstown 9.16 (70)