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 Rats won 52-51.
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.
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.
The Rats finished in front 52-51 in a heart-stopping contest.
“The way we were able to continue to fight and claw our way back into the match was sensational,” Ararat coach Donna Spalding said.
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.”
Experienced shooter Tahnee Walker led from the front, shooting 35 goals from 41 shots while defender Rebecca Skrabl was instrumental in the final term.
Kate Bligh was also strong through the mid-court.
Saints coach Shannon Reinheimer said it was close throughout the day.
“We had the lead for the entire match but unfortunately we couldn't hang on in the dying moments of the game,” she said.
“To Ararat’s credit they were determined to claw back and never gave up.”
Elly Barnett was named best on court for the Saints.
“She works hard out on the court every week, she was able to get a lot of rebounds and worked well in the defensive ring with Tara Jasper,” she said.
Reinheimer said it will be an interesting road to finals.
“We have the bye this week which will be good to have some time to regroup and tighten up a few things before the tail end of the season comes along.”
Elsewhere in the Wimmera Netball Association second placed improved their chances of playing finals netball with a strong win against the Southern Mallee Giants, 55 to 26.
Horsham Demons defeated Dimboola in round 11, keeping the team out of the top five for another week, the Demons won 72 to 40.
Association leaders Warrack Eagles made their presence known once again this season with a 75-point victory against Nhill, it defeated Nhill 81 to 6.