Bundoora took a massive step forward in its push for a double chance in the finals with a dour two-point win over West Preston-Lakeside.
In a game were both defences held firm, the Bulls prevailed 7.4 (46) to 6.8 (44) at Yulong Reserve.
Bundoora sits second on the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 ladder with an 11-5 record, ahead of Northcote Park on percentage.
With just two rounds remaining, the two sides now have a four-point and percentage advantage over fourth-placed West Preston-Lakeside and Greensborough in fifth.
Matthew Dennis was the dominant player on the ground in the vital Round 16 win. He took numerous towering marks around the ground and kicked a game-high three goals.
The two-time Frank Rosbrook medallists worked well with Liam Byrne at the stoppages, with Dennis’ tap work often setting up his midfield teammate to win the clearance.
Dennis and Byrne were joined in the Bulls’ best by Brendan Carlyon, who was one of the game’s leading possession winners. Brenton Keating and David Mitchell also produced strong performances.
Nathan Valladares was a standout for West Preston-Lakeside. The utility kept Gary Moorcroft goalless in the opening three quarters, before being thrust into attack in the final quarter where he kicking two goals from strong marks.
Mitch Tobin and Jackson Clarke racked up plenty of the ball and offered rebound from defence, while Josh Novelli and Shaun Gannon were also among the better players for the Roosters.
The loss was further soured by a hamstring injury to Ahmed Saad late in the second term. The competition leading goal kicker was lively, albeit wasteful, with 1.4 in the opening two quarters but took no part in the game after half time.
His direct opponent Brent Marshall also finished the match on the interchange after sustaining a quad injury early in the third quarter.
With both sides throwing plenty of numbers around the football, scoring was at a minimum right throughout the day.
West Preston-Lakeside had the better of the opening quarter, however its inaccuracy in front of goal ultimately proved costly.
The Roosters kicked 1.6 in the first quarter to lead by just four points at the opening break, with a number of opportunities missed from set shots within close range.
After kicking four behinds in the first term, Saad found his range early in the second with a wonderful snap from the boundary line to stretch the visitors’ lead to 10 points.
However, Bundoora soon began to work its way back as Dennis stamped his authority on the game.
Goals to Lord and Dennis gave the home side a two-point advantage at the main break, before the Bulls kicked the only two goals of the third term to lead by 13 points at the final change.
Valladares’ move forward paid immediate dividends, as he marked on the lead and converted early in the last quarter to give West Preston-Lakeside its first goal since the four-minute mark of the second term.
Josh Grabowski replied with a toe-poked goal at the other end, before the Roosters managed consecutive goals via Novelli and Steven Hiho to move within two points at the 18-minute mark.
As the game began to open up, Bundoora’s defence held firm. The back six, led by Dom Nixon and Ben Shelton held out a number of Rooster attacks, before Dennis pushed forward and kicked his third goal to give the Bulls breathing space.
West Preston-Lakeside tried desperately to find two late majors and did find one after Valladares outmarked his opponent and kicked truly, however it came with just three seconds remaining as the Bulls held on for a vital win .
Final score: Bundoora 7.4 (46) def West Preston-Lakeside 6.8 (44)