Stanhope’s odds of playing finals football have shortened to Winx-like territory after its come-from-behind win against Undera on Saturday afternoon.
On a muddy Undera Recreation Reserve, the Lions kicked the final five goals of the match to overrun the home side by 15 points.
The 5.10.40 to 3.7.25 win has Stanhope sitting in fifth position on the Kyabram District League ladder after 16 rounds.
With the next two rounds offering a bye and a home game against 14th-placed Longwood, last year’s preliminary finalists look set to feature in September.
And Stanhope mentor Cobey Aynsley will be hoping the remaining matches don’t go the way of Saturday’s see-sawing win.
‘‘The match was a wave of emotions for me, I haven’t got enough hair for those type of games,’’ he said with a laugh.
‘‘We really didn’t capitalise on our chances at the start of the match.
‘‘I felt we were on top in that first quarter, but we just couldn’t kick the ball straight.
‘‘And then Undera got on a roll in the second and third quarters.
‘‘But full credit to the boys, I was super proud of the final quarter and how we finished off the match.’’
The conditions on Saturday made scoring goals incredibly difficult.
Both sides entered the quarter-time break with seven behinds between them and Stanhope holding a slight three-point lead.
However, in the second term, Undera saluted first — kicking the only goal of the first half — to lead by two points at the main break.
The home side continued that form in the third term, booting two goals, as they looked to have built a game-winning lead of 16 points at three-quarter time.
But through determination, the visitors kicked five goals to clinch a whirlwind victory.
Stanhope defender Stuart Trevena played a strong game on Undera’s Brenton Campbell, keeping the star forward goalless.
Fellow defender Jorge Maxwell kept damaging forward Shaun Wilson goalless, while Drew Haebich won plenty of the contested ball.
‘‘Stuart played on Campbell and really forced him up the ground away from goals,’’ Aynsley said.
‘‘He did a really great job to hold him goalless.
‘‘And the conditions really suited Drew, he got us going in the second half, especially that last term.
‘‘And Jorge did a superb job on Wilson, who I think is one of the better small forwards in the competition.’’
Stanhope’s Jesse Olsen exited the field after badly rolling his ankle and will enjoy the week off before facing Longwood in round 18.
For Undera, Cody Tancred and Zac Brian were influential performers, while Jake Cormick provided valuable support.
And gun midfielders Ash Hockey and Kaine Herbert kicked a goal each.
The loss on Saturday leaves Undera in eighth position — four points behind fifth-placed Stanhope — ahead of a date with Shepparton East on Saturday.