Eltham remains undefeated atop the Northern Football/Netball League Division 2 ladder following a thrilling eight-point win over Lower Plenty at Montmorency Park.
The Panthers withstood charges from the Bears in every quarter and claimed their 13th win on the trot with the 17.8 (110) to 16.6 (102) victory.
Brent Macaffer was named best afield for the winning side, with his big body and experience once again proving invaluable in the midfield.
Sean Currie and Tom Evans were also among the best played for the Panthers, who had contributors all across the ground.
Thomas Carafa and Mikael Avramov led the way up forward for the visitors, booting three goals apiece. Daniel Jarvis, Brendan O’ Sullivan and 23rd man Jesse King all chipped with two goals apiece.
Darcy Barden and Tom Keys fought hard all day for Lower Plenty and almost willed their side over the line, with the latter receiving best on ground honours for the home team.
Patrick Flynn was again influential both in the ruck and with his work across the ground for the Bears.
Barden, Thomas Blake, Tom Keys, Ben Paterson and Oliver Wilson all booted two goals each.
A hotly contested footy early in the match saw both sides struggle to gain clear possession, however it was Eltham who eventually broke the deadlock through Jarvis.
A costly error handed Tom Keys his first just minutes later as the sides traded goals midway through the term.
Eltham put its foot down just before quarter time, kicking three goals in the space of five minutes to take a 17-point lead at the first change.
Lower Plenty burst out of the blocks early in the second term, with Blake and Wilson booting goals within the opening minutes, before Ned Waters chimed in with a goal of his own.
Eltham steadied by kicking three of the next four, before Barden put in the latest contender for mark of the year and converted the set shot.
However, Thomas Burns and O’Sullivan converted late in the term to give the visitors an 18-point lead at the main break.
The Bears once again made a charge early in the third term, booting three goals in the opening seven minutes, before the Panthers once again steadied with four of the next five.
Some fancy footwork at the goal-face gave Paterson and Luke Bower majors late in the quarter for the Bears to trim the deficit to just six points at the final change in a see-sawing battle.
Neither side was able to convert early in the final term, with 12 minutes played before Macaffer slotted a vital goal to give the away side a boost.
Down, but not out, Lower Plenty fought back as Paterson kicked his second and Ryan Gray received a 50m penalty to ensure he goaled to put the home side back within a kick.
The class of Eltham once again stood up in the dying stages, with Carafa and O’Sullivan able to get on the end of great midfield work to put the Panthers further ahead.
Corey Sleep kicked a goal in the dying seconds, but it wasn’t enough for the Bears, who went down despite providing a massive challenge to the ladder-leader all day.
Final score: Lower Plenty 16.6 (102) def by Eltham 17.8 (110)