A second quarter fade-out proved the difference on Saturday, when Tocumwal went down to Strathmerton by 21 points in round 10 of the Picola League.
It was a season defining game for the Bloods, who were playing to strengthen claims for a finals spot and the opportunity to compete to gain a double chance.
The first quarter was a real arm wrestle with both teams showing nerves by missing some gettable scoring opportunities.
The Dogs led by six points at the first change before dominating in the second quarter.
The second stanza proved to be the turning point for the game with Strathmerton taking command, kicking 5.4 to the Bloods’ solitary goal to take a 22 point lead into the second half.
The second half was a beauty with Strathmerton looking to be in control.
But an undermanned Toc. side never gave up and actually won the second half to go down gallantly by 21 points.
Tocumwal coach Sean Logie led by example and battled hard for his team all day with three goals, while undersized ruckman Dylan Mark battled manfully all day along with veteran Keith Baron.
Other good performers were Dane Maxwell, having his best season, along with Zeke Flanagan and Ollie Rennie.
For the Dogs Matt O’Kane, Adrian Crestani, Max Canfield and Adam Laidlaw all contributed with two goals each, while Matt Shannon was impressive from midfield.
Final score, Strathmerton 12.14 (86) to Tocumwal 9.11 (65).
Despite the loss, Logie was upbeat with his side, saying that his charges showed plenty of fight on Saturday.
‘‘I think we matched it well with them from the start,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know whether our pressure went down in the second or what happened but we showed some resolve with how we didn’t let them take full control of the game.
‘‘We would’ve been missing six to eight of our top quality senior players so to perform as well as we did was fantastic.
‘‘It would’ve been nice to get a win though and we don’t want to use missing players as an excuse, because every team goes through that.’’
The Bloods will now move on to face fourth placed Berrigan this week, with the match having finals implications, according to Logie.
‘‘If we win on Saturday then we should be a certainty to play finals,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll most likely come up against Berrigan in the finals if we both make it so it would be good to have a bit of an edge over them having already beaten them.
‘‘But anything can happen in this game and you don’t want to look too far ahead.
‘‘We have to stay focused and keep our minds on the task at hand each week.
‘‘The Saints will be hard to overcome and I’m expecting a close match.’’
The clash will be played at Berrigan Sports Ground on Saturday afternoon.