Ararat and Horsham Saints played out one of the games of the season at the weekend, with the game still in the balance in the dying minutes.
Ararat claimed a comfortable win when the teams last met back in round two but the Saints went into the game with a much stronger lineup.
The Saints got out to a flying start away from home, leading 15-11 at quarter-time.
They continued to build on the lead in the next two terms, holding a controlling seven-goal lead going into the final term.
But just as they have done all season, the Rats dug deep and fought back in the final term.
Goal by goal Ararat chipped away at the lead which got out to eight goals at one point. The home side finally hit the front with roughly two minutes remaining.
“After we went up it was even, then we were up, then even, then they were up but we were able to get two back and hold on for the win,” Ararat coach Donna Spalding said.
The Rats finished in front 52-51 in a heart-stopping contest.
“In the end it was either going to be a draw or one team would win by one-goal,” Spalding said.
“The way we were able to continue to fight and claw our way back into the match was sensational.”
Read more: Rats put on second-half show against Saints
Spalding said despite trailing for most of the match her side was not playing poor netball.
“We weren't doing anything particularly wrong we just couldn't get in front,” she said.
“We remained patient with the ball in hand and kept our cool which was the difference in the end I think. We utilised the mistakes made by the Saints and we scored when we had those opportunities.”
Experienced shooter Tahnee Walker was in inspired form for Ararat, shooting 35 goals from 41 shots while Kate Bligh was strong through the mid-court and defender Rebecca Skrabl was instrumental in the final term.
“The goalies for both teams shot beautifully but Tahnee was able to stand up when the pressure was on in the last quarter,” Spalding said.
“Maggie (Caris) was great at goal shooter for them but Rebecca Skrabl played well when it counted at the end.”
The Rats missed just two shots in the final quarter while the Saints missed five.
The victory is a significant boost to Ararat’s finals hopes, with a crack at the top three now on the cards, sitting just two points behind second place in fourth.
“I am happy the girls are putting some consistent netball together,” Spalding said.