NORTH Bendigo notched its fifth win in a row as it continued Leitchville-Gunbower's form slump in the Heathcote District Football League on Saturday.
The Bulldogs showed no signs of a hangover from their big win over defending champions Lockington-Bamawm United the previous round, handing the disappointing Bombers a 16.18 (114) to 5.8 (38) thrashing at Leitchville.
In one of the toughest road trips in the competition, the Bulldogs were never troubled, leading by 14 points at quarter-time, 39 at half-time and 58 at three quarter-time, before the final margin of 76 points.
"It's probably the best four-quarter effort we've put in all year. To come away with a win up at Leitchville was a really good result," Bulldogs co-coach Rob Bennett said.
"We really put it on our midfield guys today. We felt that if we could break even in the midfield it would go a long way to us winning, but our guys really took control through there.
"Tyson Findlay and Daniel Sipthorp led the way in the middle for us, Cam Lomas did a great job on Jye Keath and everyone else who rotated through there like Ryan Alford and the Craig boys (Ash and Aarryn) did the job."
Findlay, Sipthorp, Lomas and Ash Craig were the best for the Bulldogs in what was an even team effort.
As well as dominating the midfield, the Bulldogs spread the load up forward with 11 goalkickers, led by three from Jeremy Mills.
Throughout the Bulldogs' five wins in a row they've had at least 11 goalkickers three times, highlighting their array of options.
After winning their first four games by an average of 75 points, the Bombers have now lost three in a row to fellow top-five sides LBU (19 points), Mount Pleasant (24) and North Bendigo (76), during which they've tumbled from top spot to fifth.
"We've lost all confidence and are really struggling to find blokes who are playing well," Bombers coach Marty Shadbolt said.
"We played some reasonable footy early in the year and it's just amazing how different we're playing compared to six weeks ago.
"We're looking like a junior side at the moment... we can't hit targets and our turnovers are just killing us.
"It's crunch time in the next few weeks where we could go from looking like being in not a bad spot to the season getting out of reach if we can't turn it around.
"Our performance today showed we've got a lot of work to do."
Jake Williams kicked three of Leitchville-Gunbower's five goals. Brad Perry, Steve Pretty and Lee Pollock battled hard for the Bombers to be their best performers.
• White Hills recorded the biggest win of the season so far, trouncing bottom side Elmore by 135 points.
The Demons never took their foot off the pedal in winning 31.18 (204) to 10.9 (69) at Elmore.
The Demons' score of 204 was their highest since they kicked 32.18 (210) in round 11, 2007, against Huntly.
And the 135-point margin was the Demons' biggest win since round 17, 2005, when they beat Huntly by 199 points.
The Demons only had eight players kick goals in their tally of 31, with the rout led by Hayden Wright (seven), Ricky Symes (six), Jake Ward (six) and Alex Galea (four).
The Demons quickly killed off any chance of Elmore winning its first game of the season when they kicked 10.3 to 2.1 to lead by 50 points at quarter-time.
"It was a really good effort by the boys to pick up from where we left off against Heathcote a couple of weeks ago," White Hills coach Shaun Makepeace said.
"We stuck to the structure all day and didn't get lazy or selfish and did all the right things, so it was a very pleasing result."
The 135-point flogging followed the Demons' 106-point win over Heathcote last round, with White Hills having boosted its percentage from 88.7 to 135.9 with the two thumping victories.
As well as his seven goals from the midfield, Wright had 40-plus touches for the Demons to be best on ground in his second game back at the club.
Peter Harrison (two goals) and Phillip Wills were the best for the Bloods, while Luke Clark was their leading goalkicker with three.
The 135-point margin was Elmore's third defeat of the season by more than 100 points.
• Colbinabbin defeated a depleted Heathcote by 72 points, 17.14 (116) to 6.8 (44), at Prendergast Oval.
The Saints' year from hell continued as they played the second half with just 16 players on the field.
The Saints lost Reece Carmichael, Marc Millard, Nathan Bake, Joel Condon, Blake Coyle and James Carroll to injury during the first half, while coach Grant Ford and Darcy McLean would have also finished the game on the bench had Heathcote had one, but they played the game out.
"We really battled it out and that's the mentality of the boys at the moment... when we're down we're still fighting against all odds and trying to finish games as best we can," Ford said.
Remarkably, despite only playing with 16 players in the second half, the Saints kicked all six of their goals after the main break after being held to just five behinds in the first half.
The game was Colbinabbin's first in 21 days after the Grasshoppers had the bye, followed by the inter-league break.
The win improved the Grasshoppers' record to 3-4 and kept them within a game of the top five.
"We were fairly rusty today after a few weeks off, but full credit to Heathcote to play the game out with only 16 blokes in the second half," Colbinabbin coach Phil Morgan said.
Lochlan Sirett's outstanding season for the Grasshoppers continued, with the key tall bagging six goals to be among his side's best, along with Tim O'Dwyer, Ricky Welch, Matthew McEvoy, Matt Riordan and Josh Collinson.
On what was another tough day for the Saints - who have completed their first half of the season without a win - their best players were led by Daniel Carroll, the consistent Daniel Russell (two goals) and Kyle Seidel.
• Lockington-Bamawm United bounced back from its first loss in more than a year, defeating Huntly by 22 points in the grand final rematch at Norlec Oval.
The Cats trailed by one point at half-time, but kicked 11 goals to seven after the break to win 13.11 (89) to 10.7 (67).
The win was a tale of two halves for the Cats. They kicked a woeful 2.8 in the first half, but straightened up after half-time, kicking 11.3 in the second.
"It was a tough contest. Huntly plays a good brand of footy and we had to work hard for our win," Cats coach Adrian Dohnt said.
As for the contrasting goalkicking in the first and second halves: "We lifted our intensity in the second half, played more to our gameplan and it was able to open up a bit for us," Dohnt said.
Kahl Oliver backed up his seven goals from inter-league last week with six to be one of the Cats' stars, along with consistent backman Simon Keleher, Liam Main, who played on a wing, and Bendigo Gold-listed Trent Bacon (two goals).
The defeat ended Huntly's three-game winning streak.
"I was proud of the boys effort, intensity and pressure and we had a red-hot go, but lapses against quality sides like LBU really hurt and that's what happened in the second half," Huntly coach Stacy Fiske said.
Lachlan O'Toole kicked his third bag of five goals in the past four games for the Hawks, who also named Alex Demeo, who played on Oliver, Ryley Dickens and James Blood among their best players.