LAST year they had a knack of losing tight games, but another grinding win has allowed an injury-hit Coolamon to be in good shape after a tense five-point road win over Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes on Saturday.
Fresh from a six-point win over Wagga Tigers where inaccurate goalkicking nearly cost them, the Hoppers were again forced to hold on in a 7.11 (53) to 6.12 (48) win over the also injury-ravaged Goannas.
The class players unavailable for both sides was apparent in the first half where Coolamon took a 2.8 (20) to 2.6 (18) halftime lead.
However the Hoppers' more polished finishers stepped up in the opening minutes of the second term, with goals to Allister Clarke, Joe Redfern and Jeremy Sykes giving them an 18-point lead.
Ryan Price, playing his first game for the year after a groin issue, was strong in his return up forward for the Goannas.
Goals to the small forward either side of three quarter time reduced Coolamon's lead to five points, before Clarke's second gave Coolamon some breathing space.
An MCUE goal to Jacob Whitley set up a grandstand finish, and despite a number of attacking raids the Goannas couldn't find the killer blow.
MCUE is now 2-2, but expect to welcome back a few players for next week's trip to Leeton-Whitton, while Coolamon will welcome the bye.
After becoming jittery at times last year late in close games, an ability to close out cliffhangers for consecutive weeks has taken some pressure off the Hoppers as they wait for some injured players to return.
"Against Ganmain (round two loss) we dropped our heads when they got a roll on, but the last two weeks we've trusted the process when it got tight late," Coolamon coach Jake Barrett said.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we didn't falter.
"Last year we lost about four games by a goal, and one of those was against Mango. We're going into the bye now at 3-1 with a few injuries, and they do as well, but it makes it special."
Josh Buchanan's intercept marking down back was huge for Coolamon, while Jeremy Maslin was a standout in the midfield.
Jayden Carroll was also strong after being promoted to the senior side two weeks ago, including being given a role on Goannas gun Ryan Turnbull at stages.
"It's next bloke up really. All the guys coming through the twos are good enough to play first grade, we have to take those chances when they come," he said.
"Last year we maybe panicked a bit when it got tight, this year we're sticking to what we know works and hopefully it's good enough."
COOLAMON 1.2 2.8 6.9 7.11 (53) def MCUE 1.5 2.6 4.10 6.12 (48)
Goals: Coolamon - Allister Clarke 2, Joe Redfern 2, Jeremy Maslin, Jeremy Sykes, Will Graetz; MCUE - Ryan Price 2, Justin Dore, Jono Male, Zac Wiencke, Jacob Whitley
Best: MCUE - Harry Collins, James Scott, Ryan Turnbull, Zac Wiencke, Charlie Chambers, Jonathan Male; Coolamon - Jeremiah Maslin, Jayden Carroll, Allister Clarke, Joshua Buchanan, Shae Darcy
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.