Bruce makes a point to save season
Ainslie's Shaun Campbell is brought down. Photo: Melissa Adams
It was the best point Aaron Bruce has ever kicked - after the siren to give Eastlake a one-point victory over arch-rival Ainslie at Manuka Oval yesterday.
A second-half fightback earned the Demons a spot in next week's NEAFL eastern conference preliminary final against Queanbeyan with a 10.15 (75) to 11.8 (74) victory.
It had been a relatively quiet day for Bruce until he launched himself to take a massive pack mark with the scores level and just seconds remaining.
As he went back to take his shot from 25 metres out the siren sounded.
''I didn't care what it was [a goal or behind] I just wanted to make good connection, that was all I was worried about and not kick into the man on the mark … they're the ones you dream about as a kid and to do that was fantastic,'' Bruce said.
It was the most unlikely victory in an extraordinary match.
For most of the game it looked like Eastlake was doing its best not to win - terrible kicking for goal, especially at the start of the second quarter, and struggling to find a target up forward.
At times it was almost comical.
All on his own with the goal beckoning, Demons defender John van Meurs couldn't pick the ball up and it trickled out of bounds when the scores were tied.
Earlier in the last quarter, Mitch Frail (three goals) and Ryan Brabazon ran into each other when an Eastlake goal seemed certain.
But somehow it found a way to win despite Ainslie seemingly putting it to the sword in the second quarter to take a 21-point lead into half-time.
It was the Tricolours' goal-kicking accuracy and Ken McGregor-led forward line - along with the work of Shaun Campbell, Jason Fleming and Rob Tuohey coming out of defence - which proved the difference.
Especially when McGregor kicked his fifth goal 23 minutes into the final term to put Ainslie up by 19 points.
It was a hard loss for Tricolours coach Chris Rourke, who helped president Ian Muir present the Dee Day Trophy to Eastlake in the sheds after the game.
''Just the last five minutes I thought we got caught out with our inexperience … but I'm really proud of [my team],'' he said.
''We fought really hard and we were out on our feet halfway through the last quarter with a couple of injuries to McGregor and [Simon] Horner,'' Rourke said.
NEAFL eastern conference, preliminary final: Queanbeyan v Eastlake at Manuka Oval, 2pm.