BOTH went in undefeated, but only Lockington-Bamawm United emerged with its flawless record still intact after kicking away from Mount Pleasant in the final quarter of their Heathcote District league blockbuster on Saturday.
The Cats remain unbeaten since 2019 following their 17.16 (118) to 13.9 (87) win over the Blues in their eagerly-awaited clash at Toolleen.
The Blues kicked the first two goals of the final term to hit the front after trailing by 11 points at three quarter-time.
But the Cats stared down the challenge from the Blues and responded with a flurry of goals to pull away and win by 31 points.
"It was a helluva game of footy... a great contest and we absolutely loved it," said LBU's Brodie Collins, who improved his coaching record to 17-0 since taking over at the helm of the Cats.
"The boys thrived on the challenge all week leading in. It was 33 scoring shots to 22, so we had the ball in our forward half a lot and created plenty of opportunities and I was really pleased that our system held up.
"It was a game that went back and forth all day and these are the type of games you want to play in and it was just a great contest in front of a big crowd."
In his first game for a month Jesse Collins returning from a foot injury had an immediate impact to be the Cats' best player.
"Jesse played the first half across half-forward and then went into the middle and was really good," Collins said.
"Lachlan Atherton's second half was brilliant... he was intense and skilled and played with an attitude that really set the tone.
"And I thought big Tyler Phillips really took it to Chris Down, which was a great match-up between two of the premier ruckmen in the competition. Downsy probably won the battle in the middle, but around the ground Tyler was just a beast.
"Overall, we didn't have any passengers today, it was just a good team effort and everyone pulling in the one direction."
Forwards Ben Fulford (four), Anthony McMahon (three) and Rhys Woodland (three) combined for 10 goals for the Cats.
Mount Pleasant co-coach Darren Walsh said a lack of composure late in the game proved costly for the Blues as the Cats gained the upper hand.
"It was a cracking game of footy; it was a tough contest and we just lacked a bit of composure against what is the yardstick side," Walsh said.
"The group will take a lot out of today going forward. We've got the bye next week, which is a chance to refresh and we'll have a fairly healthy list going into North Bendigo and Colbinabbin after that."
Key forward Ben Weightman, who kicked five goals, Mitch Bennett, who was a strong marking target inside 50, Fletcher White in defence and co-coach Adam Baird were among the best for the Blues.
North Bendigo won its third game in a row - and retained the Golden City Cup - on an emotion-charged day against Huntly at Atkins Street.
Playing in memory of much-loved club legend Keith Robertson, who died last week, the Bulldogs comfortably won by 87 points, 19.20 (134) to 7.5 (47).
The Bulldogs were off-target early kicking 1.9 in the first term, but straightened up over the last three quarters, adding 18.11.
"The crowd was huge, the club did a great job of honouring pop and it worked out well on the scoreboard," said Bulldogs' coach Rob Bennett, a grandson of Robertson.
The Keith Robertson Medal for North Bendigo's best player was won by gun forward Dylan Klemm, who kicked seven goals, while Nathan Newlan and Nick Waterson led the charge through the middle.
"Klemmy was super and probably had 16 or 17 shots at goal; he was a great target," Bennett said.
"It was probably Nathan Newlan's best game for us. He was strong in the contest and really set the tone early for us when we needed it to be done and Nick Waterson was a really good four-quarter performer."
It was probably Nathan Newlan's best game for us. He was strong in the contest and really set the tone early for us when we needed it to be done and Nick Waterson was a really good four-quarter performer- Rob Bennett - North Bendigo coach
North Bendigo's Tyson Tresize suffered a dislocated shoulder, while Zaidyn Richards was concussed.
The Hawks' cause wasn't helped when they had to spend part of the second quarter with only 16 on the field following the reports and yellow cards of defenders Tyler Miles and Steve Kairn.
The Hawks had led by three points at quarter-time, but by half-time were 33 points in arrears as the Bulldogs, following a seven-goal to one second term, had control.
Two of the Hawks' experienced players in coach Stacy Fiske and Jaydon Cowling led their best players.
The defeat keeps the Hawks winless after six rounds.
An inaccurate Heathcote kicked away from Elmore after half-time to win by 67 points and notch its second win of the season.
The Saints held an 11-point buffer at half-time before booting 11 goals to three after the break to win 17.25 (127) to 9.6 (60).
The visiting Heathcote had the goalkicking yips from the outset when - like North Bendigo - it kicked 1.9 in the first quarter.
"It was really good for the boys to get some reward for effort with the win," Heathcote coach Andrew Saladino said.
"We were 1.10 at one stage and all over them, but Elmore would go forward and kick a goal, so early I thought it might be one of those days, but the boys kept at it really well all day and in the end it was a big win that probably should have been a bit more."
The victory was Heathcote's first over Elmore since 2018 and its second of the season after beating Huntly by 25 points in round one.
The standout player for the Saints was recruit Braden Padmore, who continued his stellar first season with the club.
"Braden was sensational again; I reckon he must have had 40 touches and kicked a couple of goals," Saladino said.
"Codie Price was fantastic as well... he went at about 95 per cent kicking efficiency, which was great and set up a lot of our play from the back line.
"Overall, it was a really good team performance."
The strong-marking Jack Brooks kicked five goals, while Jackson Conforti slotted a season-high four and has hit the scoreboard in all six games so far.
Elmore, which remains winless, named Kyle Armstrong, Dylan Oaff and co-coach Dylan Gordon its better players.
Leitchville-Gunbower copped the biggest loss it has endured since joining the league in 2010 at the expense of Colbinabbin.
Although far from full strength, the Grasshoppers were ruthless in club stalwart Tom Hill's 200th senior game as they won by 168 points at home, 29.18 (192) to 3.6 (24), to assume top spot on the ladder.
Already missing eight players, the Grasshoppers' injury toll deepened with top-end talent Todd Clarke and Laine Fitzgerald both hurting their hamstrings.
"We put a real emphasis on a four-quarter performance today and it's pleasing we were able to do that," said Colbinabbin coach Julian Bull, who for the second week in a row had to pull the boots back on and play.
"We were able to stick to what we wanted to do rather than turn into a team where everyone just wants to chase a kick, so that was pleasing."
Slow starts have been an issue for the Grasshoppers this season, but not on Saturday as they raced to a 40-point lead at quarter-time before extending it to 92 points at the main break.
Jed Brain (seven), James Brain (five), Luke Moore (four) and Stephen Tuohey (four) kicked 20 goals between them for the Grasshoppers and all featured in the best players.
The Bombers were severely hampered by injury, losing Austin Windridge (ankle), Jonathan Morphett (hamstring), Leyton Shenfield (knee), Riley Hore (neck) and Zeb Ellwood (hand).
"It was a fairly tough day on the injury front, which meant we had a few sore guys who had to stay out there because we just didn't have the numbers," Bombers coach Tim Bannan said.
"When we stuck to our structures we showed we could move the ball well, but, unfortunately, we didn't do it enough."
New ruckman Jobee Warde was again the Bombers' best player.
Colbinabbin 6.7 15.11 22.13 29.18 (192)
Leitchville Gunbower 0.3 1.3 2.3 3.6 (24)
GOALS: Colbinabbin: J.Brain 7, J.Brain 5, S.Tuohey 4, L.Moore 4, C.Shields 3, T.Clarke 1, T.Hill 1, L.Fitzgerald 1, A.Van Ruiswyk 1, H.Barlow 1, W.Lowe 1; Leitchville Gunbower: M.Candy 1, B.Azzopardi 1, B.Hawken 1
BEST: Colbinabbin: J.Brain, L.Moore, W.Lowe, B.Barton, J.Brain, S.Tuohey; Leitchville Gunbower: J.Warde, B.Hawken, M.Candy, N.McLellan, J.Kervin, T.Guerra
Heathcote 1.9 6.13 10.22 17.25 (127)
Elmore 3.2 6.2 8.4 9.6 (60)
GOALS: Heathcote: J.Brooks 5, J.Conforti 4, L.Birch 2, S.Harrison 2, B.Padmore 2, K.Cavallaro 1, B.Jane 1; Elmore: D.Oaff 4, Z.Laffy 3, C.Taranto 1
BEST: Heathcote: C.Price, B.Padmore, J.Brooks, J.Marcroft, J.Cavallaro, M.McLean; Elmore : K.Armstrong, D.Oaff, undefined.null, D.Gordon, M.Gilmour, N.Page
North Bendigo 1.9 8.11 12.13 19.20 (134)
Huntly 3.0 4.2 5.3 7.5 (47)
GOALS: North Bendigo: D.Klemm 7, M.Gray 3, J.Ford 2, N.Newlan 1, S.Giri 1, M.Thalasinos 1, B.Robertson 1, J.Francis 1, R.Alford 1, Z.Richards 1; Huntly: J.Cordy 1, T.Mercadante 1, F.Campbell 1, J.Maher 1, L.Gray 1, M.Christensen 1, O.Downing 1
BEST: North Bendigo: D.Klemm, N.Waterson, N.Newlan, A.Craig, L.Ford, S.Moyle; Huntly: S.Fiske, J.Cowling, J.Maher, B.Dimech, T.Mercadante, M.Billings
Lockington Bamawm United 5.1 10.6 11.12 17.16 (118)
Mount Pleasant 5.1 8.4 10.7 13.9 (87)
GOALS: Lockington Bamawm United: B.Fulford 4, R.Woodland 3, A.McMahon 3, T.Leech 2, H.Cobb 1, C.Cox 1, T.Phillips 1, J.Collins 1, J.Mundie 1; Mount Pleasant: B.Weightman 5, A.Baird 2, M.Bennett 2, J.Teasdale 1, Z.Keighran 1, C.Down 1, B.Mahony 1
BEST: Lockington Bamawm United: J.Collins, L.Atherton, T.Phillips, J.Mundie, B.Fulford, J.Gardiner; Mount Pleasant: F.White, M.Bennett, A.Baird, B.Mahony, B.Weightman, C.Down"
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