HEATHCOTE District league pace-setters Lockington-Bamawm United, Mount Pleasant and Colbinabbin all remain unbeaten following comfortable victories on Saturday.
The Cats, Blues and Grasshoppers are all 4-0 with percentages above 200 and with a two-game buffer on the rest of the competition after four rounds.
With Laine Fitzgerald and James Brain each kicking five goals, Colbinabbin proved far too good for White Hills, winning by 65 points at home.
After an evenly-contested opening quarter in which the Demons led by three points at the first break, the Grasshoppers assumed control of the contest with seven goals to two in the second term to set up their 17.10 (112) to 7.5 (47) victory.
"White Hills came out fairly hot early and probably was the better team in the first quarter, but we were able to keep on par with them and then made a couple of adjustments after quarter-time and started to get on top," Colbinabbin coach Julian Bull said.
"It was a bit of a grind the whole game; it was wet weather footy after a fair bit of rain the night before.
"It certainly wasn't a pretty game to watch and two teams that were fairly well set-up defensively, which played into the wet conditions as well."
It certainly wasn't a pretty game to watch and two teams that were fairly well set-up defensively, which played into the wet conditions as well- Julian Bull
The tough conditions didn't stop Fitzgerald and Brain from having a major impact on the scoreboard, with the pair each booting five goals for the Grasshoppers to be their two best players.
"Laine probably had 25 touches as well and James set us up really well early in the game," Bull said.
"Jed Brain (two goals) has had a great start to the year and played well again and Hadleigh Sirett was dominant in the ruck."
The Grasshoppers have a pair of injury concerns out of the game to Todd Clarke (foot) and Stephen Tuohey (abductor).
Saturday's game was played at the same time as Colbinabbin's Cooper Hamilton was making his AFL debut for the GWS Giants against the Adelaide Crows.
A television was set up outside the clubrooms to ensure Grasshoppers' supporters could both watch their side in action against the Demons, but also Hamilton - who had 12 touches in a 59-point win - become the first Colbinabbin product to play an AFL game.
"Jed Brain kicked an unreal goal away from his body running towards where the crowd normally is... he put both his hands up to celebrate, but when he looked up everyone was watching the TV," Bull said.
"It was obviously a great day for the club; there were a lot of kids in the Giants colours, which was good to see."
The Demons are now 1-3, with all three of their defeats having been by 10-goals plus.
Veteran defender David Wright was named best for White Hills, while midfielder Patrick Eefting was the Demons' only multiple goalkicker with two.
Mount Pleasant's 4-0 record after a big win over Leitchville-Gunbower is the Blues' best start to a season since their premiership year of 2001.
The Blues' recorded the competition's biggest winning margin of the season so far with a 125-point victory at home over the Bombers, 21.27 (153) to 4.4 (28).
Again, the Blues made a fast-start to lead by 25 points at quarter-time, while Ben Weightman's strong form up forward continued with eight goals to take his season tally to a league-best 22.
"We set some goals before the game in terms of how many scoring shots we wanted and how many we wanted to limit theirs to and we achieved both, so that was pleasing," Blues co-coach Darren Walsh said.
"We kicked inaccurately, but the positive was we created a lot of scoring shots (53) and we also played two debutantes out of the under-18s last year in Connor Moore and Jack Mackenzie."
As well as Weightman dominating in attack, Billy Mahony in the midfield provided plenty of grunt to help offset the omission of co-coach Adam Baird (corkie) to be a standout.
"Skinny (Baird) does a lot of grunt work, but Billy stepped up and did a lot of that today," Walsh said.
"Riley McNamara and Jesse Tuohey both played really well, Jesse White down back was good and our rucks Chris Down and Mitch Bennett did a really good job."
The Blues had key forward Dean Tydell reported, while Zane Keighran (tight hamstring) didn't play after half-time.
As well as the 4-0 start, what's also pleasing for Walsh is the looming return of three players to the senior line-up in the coming weeks.
"Luke Marchesi played his first game back from a knee injury last year in the reserves today, Jack Hamilton returned from overseas and played in the twos and Nick Butler, who hasn't played since 2019, also returned in the reserves, which was good," Walsh said.
Saturday was the second triple-figure loss in a row for the Bombers following a 106-point defeat from Lockington-Bamawm United the previous week.
"We went in today fairly undermanned, but we'll still take positives out of the game," Bombers coach Tim Bannan said.
"Like last week, I thought our effort was really good. Jobee Warde was brilliant in the ruck again for us and Mitch Candy and Rhys Bradley both played really good games."
Lockington-Bamawm United defeated Huntly by 45 points at home in a game where just 15 goals were kicked.
The Cats prevailed 11.12 (78) to 4.9 (33), with reigning Cheatley medallist Tyler Phillips slotting four goals.
The Cats held the Hawks to just one goal at half-time as they led by 33 points at the main break, 6.6 to 1.3.
Marcus Angove and Joss Howlett led the best players for the Cats, who have won all 16 quarters they have played so far this season.
The Hawks are now 0-3, but coach Stacy Fiske said there were positive signs for his side out of the game.
"Our first two games we were really disappointed with... we knew we could play a better brand of footy starting with our tackling and contested footy and I thought we brought that today," Fiske said.
"We had plenty of opportunities to kick some more scores today, so we're disappointed we didn't take our chances and kick a few more goals, particularly in that last quarter when we had more inside 50s.
"Steve Kairn was back to his best today as a general in the backline and competed really well; we were really impressed with Mitch Billings, who had a role on Jarod Bacon, Mitch Christensen did well in the ruck and Brandon Dimech at centre half-back was good for us too."
Colbinabbin 17.10 (112)
White Hills 7.5 (47)
GOALS: Colbinabbin: L. Fitzgerald 5, James Brain 5, Jed Brain 2, W. Lowe 2, S. Tuohey 1, H. Sirett 1, L. Moore 1. White Hills: P. Eefting 2, J. Dickens 1, M. Dole 1, D. Wright 1, B. Fallon 1, J. Fallon 1.
BEST: Colbinabbin: Laine Fitzgerald, James Brain, Hadleigh Sirett, Jed Brain, William Lowe, Benjamin Barton. White Hills: David Wright, Ben Bacon, Jack Fallon, Brady Childs, Rhys Irwin, Reilley Porter.
Lockington Bamawm United 11.12 (78)
Huntly 4.9 (33)
GOALS: Lockington Bamawm United: T. Phillips 4, J. Howlett 2, A. McMahon 2, R. Woodland 1, J. Bacon 1, J. Gardiner 1. Huntly: L. Gray 3, J. Matthews 1.
BEST: Lockington Bamawm United: Marcus Angove, Joss Howlett, Charlie Hinks, Mitchell Laursen, Luke Collins, Jeremy Mundie. Huntly: Jake Maher, Mitchell Christensen, Brandon Dimech, Travis Mercadante, Jay McDonald, Mitch Billings.
Mount Pleasant 21.27 (153)
Leitchville-Gunbower 4.4 (28)
GOALS: Mount Pleasant: B. Weightman 8, P. O'Brien 4, C. Smith 3, R. McNamara 2, D. Tydell 1, J. Teasdale 1, B. Mahony 1, M. Bennett 1. Leitchville-Gunbower: B. Hawken 2, R. Bradley 1, B. Azzopardi 1.
BEST: Mount Pleasant: Ben Weightman, Billy Mahony, Jesse Tuohey, Bailey White, Riley MNnamara, Mitchell Bennett. Leitchville-Gunbower: Jobee Warde, Mitchell Candy, Nathan McLellan, Leyton Shenfield, Matthew McLellan, Rhys Bradley.
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