One could be forgiven for glancing at the three-quarter time scoreline from Lauderdale Oval on Saturday afternoon and considering the end result a foregone conclusion.
The hosts held a commanding 38-point lead and looked to be in control of the contest after withstanding several wasteful surges of momentum from the Tigers earlier in the day.
What happened next flipped the script entirely, however, with the visitors delivering an onslaught few could have predicted to nearly snatch the most unlikely of victories before falling agonisingly short in a 13.10 (88) to 12.15 (87) loss.
The Tigers threw everything at the Bombers in the final term, kicking six unanswered goals – after managing just three in the first half and six in the first three quarters.
Luke Graham was at the forefront of the Tigers’ surge, kicking three goals in the final term to take his game tally to six, including arguably one of the goals of the season – a banana from the pocket to level the scores in the dying minutes.
Lauderdale appeared to have no answers to the onslaught that was delivered by Trent Baumeler’s men, with the Tigers’ fast, daring ball movement and execution when inside 50 proving irresistible.
It came down to a 50-metre penalty that was awarded to Tim Mosquito and the subsequent behind that was kicked in the final minute that to break this deadlock, with the southern Bombers recording an important win that keeps the side within touch of the top three.
Lauderdale coach Clint Brown reflected the mood of the rooms post-game, conceding the finish to the game will almost be looked at like a loss.
“(It was) pretty disappointing to see some of the efforts in the last half, it was pretty gut-wrenching.
“You nearly take it as a loss. The fact we were able to escape with a one-point win was miraculous given the way the Tigers were playing,” Brown said.
“It was more effort from some guys. When things got a little bit tough some guys went very individual which is not a good sign. You are going to get that in finals and we thought we were past that.”
Haydn Smith and Phil Bellchambers were strong contributors across the entire four quarters to lead the Bombers to victory, while Nicholas Raglione and Josh McGuinness were also resolute in defence, particularly with the Tigers generating repeat inside 50s at times throughout the day.
Despite Lauderdale holding on to win, and having a strong lead at three-quarter time, the Tigers looked up and about earlier in the match, with only wasteful kicking (0.7 to 3.0) in the second quarter keeping the Tigers out of the contest.
Although devastated at going down by the narrowest of margins, Tigers coach Trent Baumeler insists there are plenty of positives to take out of the game.
“We come in to every game with a plan to win, which we executed for 30 minutes (in the last quarter) and maybe for patches earlier.
“We took the game on and we converted in the last quarter. We dominated the second quarter and we scored but there were a lot of points.
“We had confidence that we could come back, we did it against North Launceston up there where we kicked five goals late. The boys have got belief, we have got to learn to win those games,” Baumeler said.
The Tigers looked confident in the final term, with Lachie Gadomski and Marcus Davies providing plenty of drive and bounce out of the back half and the likes of Graham executing most of their chances inside 50.
“We hadn’t played like that for a good three months but we gave ourselves more coverage so Lauderdale couldn’t get out the front of stoppage.
“We really like Lukey Graham. He is a tough cover, if you send a tall to him, he is really good on the ground, he is mercurial and can kick goals form the pocket, but if you put a small on him, he is really good in the air.
With a clash against Glenorchy at the Twin Ovals next weekend, Baumeler knows his side will take some key lessons out of the loss.
“You take confidence from it, but at the end of the day we didn’t win.
“We have to let that burn, it hurts and it has to – we want to be a team that competes in the competition and plays in September – we need to learn to win these games.
“The best part about footy is that next week you get another chance.”
Lauderdale will have the bye in round 19 before finishing the home and away season with matches against North Hobart and North Launceston before the finals.
Lauderdale 7.2, 10.2, 13.7, 13.10 (88)
Tigers 3.4, 3.11, 6.11, 12.15 (87)
Lauderdale : T. Boscott 3, T. Mosquito 2, O. Shaw, R. McManus, N. Baker, H. Smith, E. Stanley, R. Sutton, R. Wiggins, J. McGuinness
Tigers : L. Graham 6, M. Carter 3, S. Rice 2, T. Carter
Lauderdale : P. Bellchambers, H. Smith, N. Raglione, N. Franklin, J. McGuinness, J. Williams
Tigers : L. Graham, E. Burrows-Cheng, M. Carter, S. Rice, L. Clifford, B. McCulloch