A POWERFUL Northern Knights attack capitalised on its midfield dominance to score a 77-point victory in Saturday's TAC Cup under-18s football clash with the Bendigo Bank Pioneers at Epsom-Huntly Reserve.
The opening term was to be the most evenly-fought of the match.
Northern led 12-0 after less than three minutes as Jayden Short and full-forward Reece McKenzie were on target.
A long shot by Pioneers ruck-rover Billy Evans from Sandhurst sailed throught, but it was Short and McKenzie who were on target again for the Knights.
When Jade Gresham intercepted a pass and goaled the Knights had surged to a four-goal lead after less than 15 minutes.
South Mildura's Josh Ryan took a strong mark and goaled, but it was to be one of few contested marks the Pioneers would take near goal.
A 19-point lead at quarter-time quickly became 45 as Darcy Macpherson, Short and then back-to-back goals by McKenzie put Northern well in control.
Kyneton's Daniel Davie capped excellent play by Echuca's Aydin Johnson in the middle to score Bendigo's third goal.
A pass from Strathfieldsaye's Tommy Cole thudded into the chest of South Mildura's Jacob Chisari.
A Morrish medallist in last year's TAC Cup action, Chisari made no mistake to cut the deficit to 34 points.
Quick movement from the outer wing ended up in Short's fourth goal of the match.
Northern won the third quarter, 43-19.
Johnson, Kyneton's Jordan Mangan and Mildura's Sam Simmons goaled for the Pioneers.
The David Newett-coached Pioneers kept working hard, but the Knights had all the answers.
Northern added six goals in the last, while Bendigo scored four.
Highs for the Pioneers included a running goal by Evans after Eaglehawk ruckman Jack Lawton won possession at a boundary throw-in and handpassed to his team-mate at the Huntly end.
Strathfieldsaye's Fergus Payne dived to mark and booted Bendigo's ninth goal.
A terrific leap by Evans ended with his third goal.
After a hat-trick of Knights goals it was Kyabram's Liam Barrett who scored the Pioneers goal of the day when he took a one-handed mark in the pocket, played on quickly and snapped truly.
Pioneers coach David Newett said turnovers again proved costly.
"A lot of the time we worked hard to win the ball across half-back or in the middle, but then gave up possession through skill errors," Newett said.
"The Knights were able to go into attack too easily at times. A player of McKenzie's ability does not need a lot of supply to do some damage."
Strathfieldsaye's Harry Conway continued his excellent season in defence by being Bendigo's best.
"Harry's played excellent footy in the second half of the season. He has defended well and his rebounding ability is really important. Intensity at the contest is an area he has lifted dramatically."
Lawton competed well and Johnson's chases and tackles were highlights.
The Pioneers are back at Epsom-Huntly for this Saturday's final match of the season against Murray Bushrangers from 1pm.