GLOOMY weather did little to dissuade fierce competition between long-time rivals BITS Saints and Yeppoon Swans at Boyne Island Oval on Saturday.
In a superb demonstration of Aussie rules, the visiting team secured a close win, downing the Saints 73-68.
As both teams eye off the premiership title in just three weeks, no room for errors existed during the nail-biting match.
The defence was held strong by BITS players Steven Pugh, Jake Mostert and captain Daniel Hunt, although they fell just short of recording the much sought-after win.
The defending premiership title holders, the Saints will be looking to affirm their position on the ladder in the next round against the Panthers.
Assistant coach Lucas Hall said that although the Saints were understandably shattered at their loss, they remained the team to beat in the upcoming finals.
"No one looks forward to playing us in the finals, we are still the team to beat," he said.
"Consistent football is the key for us at the moment, just getting the little things right. Next week is a must-win game for us."
Now firmly lodged in third spot on the ladder, the Saints' focus is now on perfecting their game.
As premiership winners in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Saints are arguably the most experienced finals team in the league and they are endeavouring to protect their reputation.
While Hall insists time is on BITS' side to fine tune fitness and skills, commitment to training sessions over the weeks will determine the final result.
"It was a very entertaining game and a very disappointing result for us," he said.
"We'll need to make a few sacrifices in off-field training, but it's good to see the passion is still very much alive and we know we're good enough to win."
A horrific injury sustained by Alexander Totton means BITS will fall one short, after he was carried from the field during play.
A dislocated ankle and fractured tibia brought an early exit from the season for the key player, who remained in good spirits as he departed.
Simon Clarke, who hit the 100-game milestone on the weekend, started the match as a forward before shifting to the backline to record a stunning five goals.
BITS travel to Rockhampton Cricket Ground next week to take on the Panthers in another highly anticipated clash.
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