BEARS Lagoon-Serpentine showed it still has plenty of fight left in the Loddon Valley Football League this season after defeating Newbridge by 49 points on Saturday.
The fifth-placed Bears closed to within one game of the top three with their crucial 18.10 (118) to 10.9 (69) victory over the Maroons at Riverside Park.
The 49-point margin was the biggest blowout in games so far this season involving the cluster of four teams fighting for the double chance behind pace-setters Bridgewater.
"Hopefully, a win like today will move us forward in getting things right for the rest of the season," Bears coach Damien Featherby said.
"The most pleasing thing today was our ball-use.
"Last week (against Bridgewater) we turned the ball over at critical stages and that's something that has let us down throughout the year.
"When you turn the ball over with the way everyone wants to play footy these days, be it in the AFL or the LVFL, it's going to really hurt you, so I was happy with the way we used the ball, particularly in the conditions."
The Bears led by nine points at quarter-time, but were able to take a stranglehold on the contest in the second term.
They added five goals to two in the second quarter to build a 28-point lead at half-time, before finishing the game with eight goals to four after the main break.
"We need to gain a bit of percentage, so it was good to keep Newbridge down to 10 goals," Featherby said.
Experienced midfielder Nathan McNally was the best for the Bears, who were also well served by Brodie Leonard-Shannon in the ruck, Josh Martyn (five goals) and Brayden Scott.
The loss was the second in the past three games for Newbridge, which slipped from second to third with the defeat and kept the door ajar to the top three for the Bears.
Lachlan Ford, Jordan Pawsey and Aidan Moore led the better players for Newbridge.
Rhys Ford and David Carroll kicked three goals each for the Maroons, who must regroup ahead of what's so far proved mission impossible this season - Bridgewater - this Saturday.
• Marong dished out its second hiding of the season to YCW, belting the Eagles by 73 points at Backhaus Oval.
The 73-point margin followed Marong's 80-point hammering of the Eagles back in round two.
The game again epitomised the week-to-week inconsistency of YCW, which seven days earlier earlier took it right up to top-three side Pyramid Hill, but didn't fire a shot after half-time against the Panthers, going down 17.13 (115) to 6.6 (42).
The game was still alive at half-time when the Panthers led by 21 points, 7.6 to 4.3.
However, the Panthers continued their recent trend of strong third terms, slamming on 7.3 to 0.1 in the "premiership quarter" to break the game open.
"The game ebbed and flowed in the first half and we let ourselves down with a bit of our ball-use," said Marong coach Corey Gregg, who sat out most of the second half after copping a knock to the head in some friendly fire from team-mate Daryl Marshall.
"But in the third quarter it opened up for us again and we were really able to stamp our authority on the contest and run away with it."
Once again midfielder Craig Morris was the Panthers' best player as he continues to firm each week as a top Harding Medal contender.
Morris kicked two goals - one of which was off his back.
Ruckman Chris Morgan (two goals) was also prominent, with he and Morris among 13 goalkickers for the Panthers, who lost Luke Bennett to a hamstring injury.
Zac Boyer, Callum Williamson and Daniel Turcarelli were others to play well for the Panthers.
Better players for YCW were led by David Millard (two goals), Adrian Cronin and Ryan Walker.
• Pyramid Hill brushed aside Mitiamo by 50 points to win its eighth game.
The Bulldogs kept the Superoos to just one goal in the first half in their 15.11 (101) to 7.9 (51) victory at Mitiamo that moved them into second position.
"The boys were on today and that would be the closest we've come to playing really good footy," said Bulldogs coach Paul Grayling, who kicked three goals.
"We haven't been playing great footy and have had a lot of blokes down on confidence, but hopefully, this will give them a bit of a shot in the arm going forward. We followed direction a lot better today and got the basics right, so it was a good day by the boys."
Teenager Mitchell Dingwall made his mark on the contest, bagging five goals for the Bulldogs to be their best player.
Defender Leigh Davies and ruckman Balraj Singh continued their good form, while veteran Brad Fawcett was also a strong performer for the winners.
Mitiamo went into the match on the back of renewed confidence, having won its previous two games.
But the Superoos were quickly put to the sword when the Bulldogs led by 56 points at half-time, 10.4 to 1.2.
Matthew Perri kicked five of the Superoos' seven goals to be their best player. James Drake and Daniel Meroli were also valiant for Mitiamo.
• Calivil United ended its string of five losses in a row, defeating bottom side Inglewood by 41 points at Hibernian Hotel Oval.
A strong third quarter was the catalyst for the Demons' 10.14 (74) to 4.9 (33) victory - their 25th in a row over Inglewood dating back to 2002.
The Demons - who lost Anthony Dennis (hamstring) early in the game on top of Glen Scholtes (knee) already out - led by seven points after a low-scoring first half, 3.4 to 2.3.
But they put an end to the Blues' hopes of winning their first game of the season when they kicked 5.5 to 0.1 in the third term to stretch their advantage to 41 points.
"Our effort all game had been really good, but we were able to get some reward on the scoreboard just before three quarter-time when we kicked five goals in about eight minutes," Demons coach Andrew Freemantle said.
"They were trying conditions and Inglewood came at us fairly hard, so we were happy to get the win on the board... it has been a while.
"The players stood up when they had to and got the result."
Jonas Sommerville, Glen Richardson - one of the few players left from the glory years of the 2000s - and ruckman Justin Hynes were all influential for the Demons.
Inglewood had good players in Jayden Sheean, Sam Williams and Josh Essex.