THE OBLITERATION of a top-four contender has opened the way for North Ballarat Rebels to move into the eight.
This continues a dominant Rebels' four-game winning streak that has taken the team from winless and languishing on the TAC Cup under-18 ladder bottom into a potential finals prospect at the season's half-way mark.
It buoys Rebels' confidence for the next two rounds, after a development weekend, to battle Murray Bushrangers and Dandenong, both teams about the same mark as the Rebels.
An 89-point win against Sandringham at Eureka Stadium on Saturday highlighted just how much the Rebels are improving week-to-week.
It is most evident in goal kicking, with strays blemishing most matches, now a great deal sharper - the Rebels booted three solitary behinds, all in the first half and two in the first quarter.
Rebels coach David Loader had thought his team might have been stretched, due to injury and availability, leading into the game.
He was most impressed with how all those on field stepped up.
"The boys were super...it was a great hit-out for us," Loader said.
"They knuckled down and followed the game plan and handled the ball very, very well.
"...to see what I saw (on Saturday) shows what we're capable of."
Consistent strong performer Oscar McDonald controlled the game from centre half-back.
Up forward, where the Rebels spent a lot of game time, Matt Johnston and Jacob Wheelahan booted four goals each.
Jesse Palmer, Tom Templeton and Tom Taurau, in his second game, kicked three goals each among the Rebels' 11 goal kickers.
Loader said it was tough to pick a best six on ground with such a great contribution across the team.
Play was tight through the opening term. The Rebels held a narrow one-point lead at the break.
Then they kicked away and seized control in an eight-goal to one second quarter.
Their second half was just a powerful, booting 12 goals straight to the Dragons' 3.7.
Loader said he just wanted his players to keep fine-tuning - the reward for their hard work was telling.
"Great credit to the boys, they've worked themselves back into good form," Loader said.
"Four games ago we were bottom of the ladder and now this week's result has moved us into the eight.
"That's a massive improvement."
The Rebels return to action against the Bushrangers in Craigieburn on June 14 and return home to Eureka Stadium the following two weeks for matches against the Stingrays and Western Jets.