THREE quick goals in the space of four minutes helped Canberra Demons keep their finals hopes alive in Wagga on Saturday.
The Demons claimed a seesawing North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL) thriller over Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants, 12.8 (80) to 10.15 (75) at Robertson Oval.
The win keeps the Demons’ finals hopes alive and it was led by a charge of their Riverina-bred footballers playing in front of their home crowd.
Albury’s Ben Fulford booted four goals in a best-on-ground display, while Temora’s Jacob Turner produced his best game of the year to help the Demons over the line.
Leeton pair Mitch Hardie and Lucas Meline both shone, as did Mirrool’s Mitch Maguire in a win that moved the Demons level with sixth-placed Aspley.
Canberra led by nine points at three-quarter-time but found themselves trailing by seven points at the 26 minute mark of the final term.
Goals to Fulford, Sam Martin and Jordie Harper in the space of four minutes had the Demons back in front, before a late Giants goal put the margin back to five points.
In a frantic finish, GWS’ Jeremy Finlayson marked 50 metres out from goal in the dying seconds, and played on, only for the siren to sound just before he kicked the ball.
Canberra coach Kade Klemke, also a Riverina product, was relieved to get over the line in another close game.
“It’s something that’s been happening all year,” Klemke said.
“All six wins have been very close games. Our biggest winning margin is 14 points.
“It was good to get a win again. A win’s a win for us, and it keeps us in the finals hunt now.”
Klemke said the support of the Riverina crowd was well received.
“I thought our support was fantastic. As we walked off at the end it really felt like the crowd embraced us and enjoyed the footy,” he said.
“There was some good quality footy. The momentum swings were just amazing in how it just changed so quickly.
“There were some great passages of play. The Giants really hurt us in the middle with (Tendai) Mzungu, (Daniel) Lloyd and Dawson Simpson putting it down their throat. At times we couldn’t stop it and that’s probably what kept them in it.”
Klemke also heaped praise on his Riverina boys.
“It was Jacob Turner’s best game of the year. He’s showed signs and it all clicked for him, which was fantastic,” he said.
“I was really happy with his game. It was his first standout game of NEAFL footy.
“Lucas Meline and Mitch Maguire were both good, and Mitch Hardie too. He would have taken eight to 10 marks across half-forward.”