Avenel has done its finals chances no harm after a grinding 15-point win over flag-fancy Stanhope.
The Swans are in the mix of teams vying for the last few places in the top six, but Saturday’s win moves them two games clear in fifth spot on the ladder, ahead of Lancaster in sixth.
It was a stunning reversal of the two sides’ clash from earlier in the year, when Stanhope prevailed by a whopping 79 points.
Stanhope won the toss on Saturday and, as expected, elected to kick with the gale-force wind in the first quarter.
The Swans’ defence held strong, and despite Stanhope having two more scoring shots than the Swans, Avenel took a three-point buffer in to the first change.
The Swans made the most of the breeze in the second term, booting four goals to one to hold a 23-point lead at the main break.
It was the Swans’ engine room that was doing the bulk of the damage, with coach Don Stirling a clear best on ground.
Michael McKenzie was in everything, while Paul Arandt continued his purple patch with another dominant performance in the ruck.
Avenel’s defence was forced to work overtime in the third term.
Stanhope, now with the advantage of the breeze, was relentless as it looked to turn its half-time deficit around.
The ball barely made it past the centre square and Avenel didn’t score for the entire term, but Stanhope failed to make the most of its opportunities.
The Lions booted a woeful 3.8, partly due to bad kicking on their behalf, but largely thanks to a phenomenal effort from Avenel’s back six.
The Swans’ defence was under pressure for the full 30 minutes of the third term, but it managed to quell the Lions’ forward forays on many occasions.
Scott Tyers was a general down back, while John Green played his best game of the year.
Avenel trailed by three points at the final change, but with a strong breeze going in to the last quarter, Stirling implored his charges to make the most of their opportunities.
And that they did.
The Swans stormed home with four last quarter goals, while Stanhope was restricted to just one for the term, to see Avenel run out the winner.
Score: Avenel 11.8 (74) d Stanhope 7.17 (59)
Goals: M. Thomas, D. Stirling, C. Burton 2; N. Thomas, N. Goodwin, S. Standley, C. McCarthy, M. Morgan
Best: D. Stirling, J. Green, S. Tyers, M. McKenzie, M. Thomas, P. Arandt
Avenel copped a hiding at the hands of ladder-leader Stanhope, going down by a whopping 156 points.
An undermanned Swans outfit failed to register a goal for the entire match, with a solitary behind in each of the first three quarters all it could muster.
Stanhope seemed to get better as the game wore on, with a 10-goal final term the pinnacle for the Lions.
Cal Williams and Simon Van Duinen toiled hard for the Swans in the hefty loss.
Score: Avenel 0.3 (3) d Stanhope 24.15 (159)
Best: C. Williams, S. Van Duinen, S. Martin, K. O’Connor, S. Richardson, C. Lyons
Avenel’s under-18 contingent showed what it was capable of with a crushing 54-point win over finals aspirant Stanhope.
The Swans were relentless from the get-go, keeping the Lions scoreless in the opening term while booting three goals of their own to hold a 22-point buffer at the first change.
Stanhope hit back in the second term, reducing the margin to 18 points by half-time, but from there it was all Avenel.
The Swans extended their lead further as the match wore on, before running out comfortable winners.
Cody Thomson and Andrew Dowling were the most dangerous in front of goal, kicking three goals each.
The win keeps Avenel in second spot on the ladder, but the real test is this weekend against ladder-leader Merrigum.
Score: Avenel 11.11 (77) d Stanhope 3.5 (23)
Goals: C. Thomson, A. Dowling 3; L. Stevens 2; S. Cusack , C. Thomson, D. Mendoza
Best: C. Thomson, S. Cusack , J. Nipperess, A. Dowling, J. Sutherland