REIGNING premier Lockington-Bamawm United won the battle of what had been the Heathcote District Football League's only unbeaten teams, defeating Leitchville-Gunbower by 19 points on Saturday.
The Bombers had more scoring shots, but the Cats' superior conversion proved the major difference as they prevailed 12.4 (76) to 8.9 (57) at Leitchville.
The victory returns the Cats to their familiar position at the top of the HDFL ladder.
"It was a very hot game of footy and the boys were just fantastic for four quarters," Cats coach Adrian Dohnt said.
"For the effort they put in, it was great to get the win."
The game was tight throughout, with the Bombers leading by one point at quarter-time, before the Cats held sway by 13 points at half-time, nine at three quarter-time and 19 at the final siren.
"There wasn't much in it for most of the day," Dohnt said.
"Throughout that second half we were able to keep a two-goal buffer through most of it and then got it out to three goals at the end.
"Our efficiency going forward was probably one of the differences today and hitting our targets with our skills probably got us over the line in the end.
"It was a really good win because there's no doubt Leitchville will be up towards the top of the ladder at the end of the year."
The Cats named big man Chris Hudson, who spent a lot of the day in the ruck, as their best player, along with experienced defender Simon Keleher, Matt Bongiovanni, who came off the ground in the last quarter with a hamstring injury, and half-forward Ryan Jensen.
Matthew Deledio was lively up forward for the Cats, kicking four goals, and former coach Kahl Oliver added three.
While the Bombers were beaten, it was their most competitive performance against the Cats since joining the HDFL.
In their previous eight meetings against the HDFL powerhouse, the Bombers had never got within 56 points.
"We had our chances today, especially in the third quarter when we had a lot of ball inside our 50, but didn't make the most of it," Bombers coach Marty Shadbolt said.
"Locky was a lot cleaner around the contest than us and their delivery into the forward line was a lot better, and that was probably the difference in the end.
"Their pressure was also really good, and that contributed to us not using the ball as well as we would have liked.
"Locky showed why they have been such a good side for a few years now."
The best players for the Bombers were Jake Truefeldt in the middle and across half-forward, Will Brereton in defence and Hoby Bussey, who held the dangerous Lachlan Collins to two goals.
• Huntly ignited its season with a 52-point win over Colbinabbin at Hy-Line Australia Oval.
Entering the game 0-3, last year's grand finalists secured a much-needed win with the 15.8 (98) to 7.4 (46) victory over the Grasshoppers.
"The first few weeks were frustrating where we had our chances to win two games and didn't, so it was good that it was able to all come together for us today," Huntly coach Stacy Fiske said.
"The most pleasing thing for us today was we had close to 100 tackles and 140 defensive pressures, which is the best it has been since I've been here.
"It was great to see the boys really buy-in to what we're trying to achieve and the proof of that was in the way we were able to perform."
The Hawks got the jump on the Grasshoppers to lead by 24 points at quarter-time and held the advantage for the remainder of the game.
The Hawks increased their lead at every break.
"We know it's only one win and we've still got plenty of work to do, but the boys have seen today how effective we can be when we all buy-in over four quarters," Fiske said.
The Hawks named centre half-back Matthew Jefferies their best player, while Fiske, Harry Whittle (two goals) and Ryan Harris were other standouts for Huntly.
Lachlan O'Toole provided a strong target up forward, kicking five goals.
The loss leaves Colbinabbin with a 1-4 record and in seventh position on the ladder.
Ruckman Lochlan Sirett continued his strong start to the season to be the Grasshoppers' best player.
Defender Matt Riordan, gun midfielder Pat O'Brien and David Price were others to work hard for Colbinabbin, while Leroy Miller (three) was the only multiple goalkicker.
• North Bendigo crushed Heathcote by 108 points, winning 22.16 (148) to 5.10 (40) at Classique Developments Oval.
The Bulldogs were well in control of the game at half-time when they led by 41 points, before adding 12 goals to two after the main break.
The win improved the Bulldogs' record to 3-1, with veteran ruckman Tony Plim, and recruits Matthew Sawyer, Brendan Jennings and Shaun Kellow all prominent.
Cameron Moore, Damien Webb and Aarryn Craig all kicked three goals each for the Bulldogs.
Heathcote only has a draw from its first five games, but coach Grant Ford is still keeping the faith that his side can bounce back and push for the finals, like it did last year after it had been 1-4.
"We'll have Jake Condon, Luke Bell, Blake Coyle and myself all coming back in the side soon and we're certainly not giving up on the season," Ford said.
"We were in basically the same spot last year after five games and ended up making the finals, so we'll keep working away."
The Saints - who haven't missed the finals since 2004 - dearly need to get their key personnel back in the side, with their past four games heavy losses by margins of 108, 76, 122 and 63 points.
Daniel Carroll, Kyle Seidel and James Carroll all battled hard on a tough day for the Saints, although, there was a positive with the return of dual premiership skipper Joel Condon from a knee injury suffered in the pre-season leading into last year.
• Mount Pleasant has already equalled its tally of last year's wins after defeating Elmore by 64 points at Toolleen.
The Blues capitalised on a fast-start when they led by 36 points at quarter-time to win 22.17 (149) to 13.7 (85) as they notched up their fourth win.
Star recruits Kain Robins (six) and Matt Gretgrix (five) bagged 11 goals between them for the Blues, while Luke Milroy and Nathan Whipp added three each.
Robins and Milroy were among the Blues' better players, along with Tim Hill, Brad King and Chris Black.
Elmore coach Stephen Arthur was happy with how his side competed after quarter-time against an opponent that is shaping as one of the HDFL's top teams.
Elmore kicked 11 goals to the Blues' 14 after quarter-time.
"Gretgrix and Robins were a big difference today, but we were fairly happy with the way we played," Arthur said.
The Bloods - who have now dropped to the bottom of the ladder - suffered a blow when onballer Ty Parsons was taken to hospital at half-time with a bruised sternum.
Former Frankston VFL player Luke Clark kicked two goals in his first game for the Bloods, whose better players were led by Dean Holyman, Jack Hayes and Stuart Day.
James Harney kicked three goals for the Bloods.