The La Trobe University Bendigo Pioneers scored a 31-point win over the Murray Bushrangers in their NAB League clash at Echuca on Sunday.
The Pioneers improved their season record to 4-1 on the back of the 84 to 53 victory.
Both teams were missing some of their more experienced players because of COVID-19 restrictions and they had minimal preparation for the encounter, which made the win even sweeter for Pioneers' coach Danny O'Bree.
"It was a really good performance,'' O'Bree said.
"The boys came together really well and played some good footy."
The Pioneers could have put the game away in the first quarter.
Their pressure around the ball and tackling was a feature as the Bushrangers struggled to work the ball forward.
"Our forward pressure was a theme of the week,'' O'Bree said.
"It wasn't to the level it should have been against Calder when we lost."
Unfortunately for Bendigo the execution with ball in hand wasn't as telling as the defensive work.
The Pioneers dominated general play and inside 50s, but by quarter-time only had 2.6 (18) to show for it.
The 11-point lead could have been 30 points plus had it not been for poor kicking in front of goal.
The Bushrangers regained their composure in the second term and looked dangerous when they moved the ball inside 50.
The Pioneers' backline stood up well under pressure, with Lachlan Wright, Aidan Hare and Ricky Monti in good form.
A goal to Louis Thompson seconds before the half-time siren gave Bendigo an 11-point lead at the main break.
Bendigo broke the game open with a bright start to the third term.
The Pioneers kicked the first two goals of the term, including some fine team play to move the ball from deep defence to the forward 50 and Hugh Hamilton kicked truly after marking on the lead.
The Bushrangers dug in and kicked two of the final three goals of the quarter to reduce the margin to 20 points at the last change.
Any chance of Murray running over the top of the Pioneers was quashed in the opening seven minutes of the final term as the Pioneers kicked two goals to grab a 32-point lead.
O'Bree was full of praise for Jed Brereton and first-gamer Jacob Nihill, who rotated in the ruck and full-back.
"I thought they were sensational,'' O'Bree said.
"It was a big challenge for them, particularly Jacob in his first game, and I thought they did a great job."
Hugh Hamilton showed his class with three crucial goals, while Monti and Anthony Depasquale collected plenty of the ball.
The Pioneers remain in limbo as to whether they'll play next weekend because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Only two matches were played this weekend, with the Geelong Falcons defeating Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the other regional match-up.
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