What a finish: Mudcrabs clinch upset victory
AUSSIE RULES: The Gladstone Mudcrabs produced a gutsy three-point win against BITS Saints in a riveting derby match on Saturday night at Clinton Oval.
Former Muddies player Ben Dempsey had the chance to win the game for the Saints after he was awarded a free kick just before the final siren.
However his kick for goal hit the post as the Mudcrab players celebrated a benchmark win.
Steve Eilola booted three goals for Gladstone Mudcrabs while Ky Hull booted two early goals for the Saints in a 8.6 (54) to 7.9 (51) score.
Eilola booted in what was eventually the match-winning goal and his 55th for the season.
But it looked like Dempsey was to put a dagger in the Mudcrab players' hearts with two final quarter majors - the second of which had the BITS side in front.
Zac Jahn and Thaiday Reuben were influential and Reuben's calmness in defence late in the game was most crucial.
Josh Brown was best afield and he marshalled the defence for the Mudcrabs with timely spoils and run off half-back.
Fellow defender Jay Warry was tenacious while Brendan Gilchrist showed dash.
Muddies coach Mark Jensen said the second half is the standard he wants his players to perform at.
"We probably didn't turn up in the first half to be honest," Jensen said.
The hosts were six-points in arrears at half-time, but awoke from their slumber to kick 4.2 to 1.4 in the third quarter.
"I thought our pressure around the footy in the first half probably wasn't where it needed to be, but we turned it around in the second half," Jensen said.
"It certainly wasn't our best game of the year that's for sure."
After some minor adjustments during the half-time break, Jensen said the midfield lifted when the game was at its hottest.
"The midfield really stood up and it was probably a team effort," he said.
"Browny (Josh Brown) was great in the second half and Sam Schofield was great in the midfield."
Dempsey put the Saints within five points early in the last quarter after he accepted a pass from impressive defender Tyson McMahon and when Paul Caveny spotted Dempsey for his second, the alarm bells were ringing for Gladstone Mudcrabs.
But the Muddies' group of defenders led by Brown, Warry and ex-Saint Ricky McClure stood up at the coal-face.
BITS Saints assistant coach and president Andrew McMahon said it was a typically spirited contest.
"Our forward entries and we just couldn't take a mark in the forward line and they worked the ball out of the back-line very well I thought," McMahon said.
"We thought we might run over them with our legs, but they were a bit more cleaner than us."
Muddies have a big three weeks coming up with games against Panthers, Kangaroos and Glenmore all in Rockhampton while BITS are at home to the Kangaroos next Saturday.