WET weather and bad luck combined to leave Mooroolbark a game behind Rowville on Saturday in the battle for the Eastern Football League division 2 minor premiership.
The Mustangs lost by 11 points to the Hawks at Mooroolbark in wet and slippery conditions that led to just nine goals for the game and countless contested possessions.
In the skin-tight division 2 competition the loss left the Mustangs trailing second-placed Montrose on percentage in third position, which would mean an elimination semi final under the division's top-four format.
Mustangs coach Brett Fisher said the Hawks had made the most of the conditions and there wasn't much either side could take from a game played in such heavy conditions.
"Tactics never came into it; it was just spirited football," he said. "There was nothing you could take out of it in such very, very hard conditions.
"We missed a couple of shots earlier in the game when the ball was a bit lighter and arguably that cost us at the end of the day, but there was really nothing in it."
James and Sean McManus were the Mustangs' best players along with Ben Mullett, Matt Polkinghorne and Mark Martin.
Fisher said the game showed little about how the two clubs would fare against each other if they were to meet in the finals. "Rowville is a terrific side, but I know we are as well. They got the points on the day. Hopefully, we don't play them in those conditions again."
With three games to go in the season Fisher said his club, the Hawks and Montrose would all be battling for those coveted top two positions and a second-chance in the finals.
"If Rowville slip up we are both back into contention for top-spot; it's a race for a top-two position."
EFL division 2: Rowville 52 points, 166.52 per cent; Montrose 48, 171.71; Mooroolbark 48, 134.20; Donvale 34, 107.50; Bayswater 32, 117.42; Upper Ferntree Gully 24, 78.94; Doncaster East 22, 77.95; Waverley Blues 16, 71.18; Mulgrave 12, 72.66; Doncaster 12, 69.35.
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