WANGARATTA kept itself in the finals hunt with a crucial eight-point win over Wodonga Raiders on Saturday.
In an entertaining contest that came down to the wire, the Raiders threatened to come from the clouds with a nine-goal final term to surge them back into contention.
They were 50 points down at three-quarter-time.
However, the Raiders put to bed their recent final quarter woes and finished the game well on top.
Gun forward Dean Limbach kicked 10 goals in defeat.
Luke Mullins (five goals) and midfield maestro Jamie Allan starred for the victors, who again had another promising performance soured by injury.
Milestone man David Thayer (hamstring), Jamie Anderson (calf) and assistant coach Justin Hoggan (cork) all failed to finish the game.
Young ruckman Jade Cleeland (ankle) was forced to withdraw pre-game, paving the way for James McClounan to make his senior debut for the Pies.
Wangaratta is 4-4 after eight rounds and only percentage is keeping the Pies out of the top-five.
Next month’s Wangaratta derby against Rovers looms as a finals-shaping contest.
Wangaratta coach Mark Knobel said the club was optimistic about its chances.
“We still think we can cause a few headaches when we have everyone fit and available,” Knobel said.
“It was a real danger game for us this week, so it’s great that we were able to get the job done.”
Wodonga Raiders co-coach Simon Bone was rapt to see his side fire in the final term but said it was a case of too little, too late.
“Our last quarters have been pretty pathetic, to be honest,” Bone said.
“It was raised a few times during the week and certainly at three-quarter-time.
“It was certainly positive to see but ultimately we left it too late.
“We certainly got something to take out of the game but our first half was disappointing.”
The Raiders remain in eighth spot on the ladder and host reigning premier Yarrawonga this week.