Springbank defender Shannon Donegan was rushed to hospital after a bad head clash as the reigning back-to-back premiers dug deep to beat Daylesford on Saturday.
Tigers coach Michael Searl said Donegan suffered a fractured skull in the incident and will require surgery during the coming week.
Springbank was outplayed by the home side in the first half, but the Bulldogs’ wastefulness in front of goal meant they only led by 10 points at the main break.
Scores were then level at the final change, before the Tigers kicked two of the three majors in the last term to record a nine-point triumph.
Searl said Marty Anderson did a great job on Daylesford forward Seb Walsh to be named the Tigers’ best, while experienced forward Billy Driscoll and classy onballer Nick Couch helped get the side over the line.
For the Bulldogs, coach Marcus Goonan was left to rue poor kicking, but praised the games of youngster Cam Ralph and ruckman Sam Winnard.