Eaglehawk set about righting the wrongs of last year by defeating South Bendigo by 56 points at Canterbury Park on Friday.
A slow start to 2021 put the Hawks on the back foot and they never really recovered before the season was cut short.
After narrowly going down to Strathfieldsaye in round one, the Borough blitzed the Bloods with a second-half barrage to win 19.8 (122) to 9.12 (66).
"It's polar opposite to the way we started last year where we dropped a couple of close ones and you're left chasing your tail all year,'' Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson said
"It's going to be pretty tight to make the top five, so our aim at the moment is to improve each week."
The Bloods, who were without star forward Kaiden Antonowicz among others, took the game right up to the home side early.
Much like the round one loss to Golden Square, South was in touch until the main break.
After conceding 8.9 to 3.3 in the second half against Square, the Bloods were outscored 9.4 to 2.6 by the Borough in the second half on Friday.
"I don't think the scoreline reflected how competitive South Bendigo were,'' Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson said.
"They gave it a real nudge and played a good brand of footy. They have the potential to open you up pretty quickly.
"In the second half we tightened up defensively, which gave us a look at a few more inside 50s.
"We didn't make any drastic changes at half-time, it was just about sticking to our plan and we were able to kick away."
The Hawks' midfield set the tone for the win.
Noah Wheeler (24 disposals), Billy Evans (28 disposals), Joel Mullen and Kobe Lloyd had a big impact on the game, while full-forward Darcy Richards kicked six goals.
"We know what we're going to get from Noah (Wheeler) and Billy (Evans), but we played Kobe Lloyd through the middle and I thought he was great for the second week in a row,'' Matheson said.
"Joel Mullen played as an inside midfielder and he was really good again. We need to clone him... he's so good down back and he's good on the wing as well.
"Darcy has had a great start to the year. I think we're probably getting the ball inside 50 a bit better to suit him this year compared to last year."
The only negative for the Hawks was a quadricep injury to Dillon Williams, who is unlikely to play next week against Kangaroo Flat.
For the second-straight week Cooper Leon (30 possessions) was named South Bendigo's best player.
Liam Byrne and Michael Herlihy also played well for a Bloods' team that faces fellow 0-2 side Sandhurst next Saturday.
"We were on top in the first quarter and probably didn't make the most of our opportunities,'' Bloods' coach Nathan Horbury, who had a game-high 38 possessions, said.
"Eaglehawk were super in the second half and played some really good footy and we couldn't go with them.
"Our structures weren't great after half-time and they moved the footy too easily through the middle of the ground."
Aside from Antonowicz the Bloods were also missing senior regulars Brayden Torpey, Joel Swatton, Ollie Simpspn, Daniel Nalder, Tom Brereton, Zac Hare, Riley Walsh, Will Allen and Will Keck.
"It hurts, but missing players is no excuse,'' Horbury said.
"We thought we had side that could compete with Eaglehawk and we weren't good enough."
Disposals: Eaglehawk 368, South Bendigo 301.
Marks: Eaglehawk 122, South Bendigo 98.
Clearances: Eaglehawk 27, South Bendigo 43.
Inside 50s: Eaglehawk 50, South Bendigo 43.
Turnovers: Eaglehawk 59, South Bendigo 56.
Free kicks: Eaglehawk 26, South Bendigo 24.
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