THIS is what the competition is turning into - more pace, cleaner hands, stronger contested marking and all from players that could easily slip into AFL ranks.
Essendon left North Ballarat Roosters a lingering taste of what will be more of the norm in the Victorian Football League future.
For the second season straight, the Selkirk Roosters finish the season frustratingly close to the top-eight and finals football, but just off the pace.
Up for grabs was eighth spot to the winner - provided Williamstown simultaneously beat Northern Blues, which they did.
In the end, the Bombers dealt the Roosters a 39-point loss at Windy Hill.
Vocal Bombers fans - some wearing In Hird We Trust t-shirts - were rapt to have something to cheer amid another tumultuous week for the club.
Once the Bombers started to taste control with the opening goal of the third quarter, they methodically pulled away and clearly outclassed the Roosters.
The Roosters stuck strong in effort and discipline. They were tenacious.
The Bombers were just that bit faster and stronger and more efficient.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald was pleased with his team's exciting brand of football in the first quarter and defensive lock-down in the second.
"I thought if we played out or near our best, we would put pressure on them but they came out better and put the pressure on us," FitzGerald said.
"Their inside-50s in the last quarter- they were more productive with the ball, they were able to get more of the ball forward and gave themselves more scoring opportunity.
"Our effort was sound. We hung on for a long time."
Signs are good for the Roosters.
First quarter play was exciting, free-flowing and intense.
Everything happened so quickly - the Bombers piled on two quick openers, the Roosters nabbed the next five goals within nine minutes and the Bombers chipped back late.
Clearances were clean, delivery sharp and snap goals.
Roosters captain Michael Searl booted two of his four goals and was establishing himself as a handy forward target in the game.
Bombers midfielder Leroy Jetta and Rooster Myles Sewell were matched at 12 disposals each.
Play was tied 6.1 apiece at quarter-time.
In stark contrast, the second quarter slowed as both teams intensified defensive pressure.
The Bombers nabbed the first goal within 22 seconds and by half-time the difference was 10 points.
Then the Bombers started to make it look easy.
Tom Bellchambers and David Hille, who was dominating in the ruck, started reeling in strong contested marks and making Roosters spill about their feet.
They seemed to be in front and faster to the ball.
The Roosters did not tire - but the Bombers had lifted their game a notch and the Roosters could not keep up.
Nathan Lovett-Murray and Nick O'Brien - both who passed through the North Ballarat Rebels' program - built 29 touches apiece.
FitzGerald kept to fine-tuning targets at the final break, urging his players to stop the Bombers dictating play on their terms.
But the Bombers refused to yield and played exactly how they wanted - into VFL finals.