Ararat was forced to come from behind to keep its undefeated start to the A Grade season going against Southern Mallee Giants at the weekend.
The Rats went into the game coming off a two-week break, and it the effects of the extended period of time off were visible early on.
Having won their first five games heading into Saturday's contest, the Rats were firm favourites to beat the Giants who had just two wins to their name.
But the visitors did not let table standings play any part in the match early on, breaking out to an 11-9 lead at the first break.
"We just went bang from the start," Giants captain Trudi Hallam said.
"It was about encouraging each other and I think we have started to gel really well which showed early on."
The Rats were again outscored in the second term, trailing by three goals at the major break.
Ararat A Grade coach Taylor Mason said the extended break probably had an impact on her side's start to the match.
"Coming away from two weeks off is always a hard task. Even at training the last few weeks we have been a bit scrappy," she said.
"The two weeks off in a way does you good but in another you are back at round one, starting the season again."
The Rats found their groove after half-time, doubling Southern Mallee's score for the third term to regain a four-goal lead heading into the final quarter.
...you always play better with the crowd behind youTaylor Mason
The Giants won the final term by one - three out of four for the game - but could not reel in the deficit Ararat had created.
The away team moved within two goals and had chances to draw level late in the game but were unable to do so.
"I was very proud of the girls and with the intensity they put in," Hallam said.
"They never gave up which is the important thing. Hopefully next time we play them (Ararat) we can get across the line."
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Mason said there were several factors that helped her side finish strongly.
"Our goalies were on fire on the last few minutes and I think overall we kept our cool," she said.
"The crowd got involved too - you always play better with the crowd behind you so I think that helped us get over the line too.
"It is a credit to the way our girls can run out a game. It is the third or fourth match that has come down to the last few minutes."
The three-goal margin is the closest any team has come to the Rats in their six games so far.
The ladder leaders were also able to win without mid-court player Jess Williamson, who had her wisdom teeth removed during the week.
"It is a credit to to our team to have a league best and fairest quality player off the court and to still get up," Mason said.
"The versatility in the team is amazing.
"Players like Krystal Fisher who was great down back with intercepts and Monique Scott in the mid-court really stepped up."
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