QUALIFYING FINAL at Visy Park on Saturday
Calder Cannons 2.3 8.715.10 25.10 (160)
North Ballarat Rebels 6.0 8.3 8.3 9.7 (61)
EXACTLY how this happened will take North Ballarat Rebels some time to dissect.
The Rebels slammed on the first five goals of their TAC Cup qualifying final and were just four points down after a competitive opening half.
Calder Cannons claimed the win by 99 points at Visy Park on Saturday.
There was no strong breeze advantage. Nor did the Rebels somehow falter in their effort.
The Cannons seized control, kicked their game up a few notches and completely dictated play.
A superstar team and boasting hyped-up AFL draft prospects, the Cannons are the clear benchmarks of the competition.
But the Rebels finished just 19 points short of the Cannons in Ballarat a fortnight ago.
The Rebels invoke their double-chance, thanks to everything falling their way to end the regular season, and move into a semi-final.
Rebels coach David Loader said his team's form was fantastic early - players needed to rediscover that and believe again.
"That first quarter shows our group what we are capable of on the ground," Loader said.
"We'll strive to produce that effort for a longer period next week."
Reels full forward Jesse Palmer was in stellar form with six goals - three booted in the first five minutes' play and a fourth before quarter-time.
Palmer had great energy and enthusiasm but was starved of the ball under the Cannons' second-half reign.
The Cannons snuck in two goals before the first break and while they booted six goals to two in the second quarter, it still felt like the Rebels were very much in this clash.
Loader said missed opportunities hurt - a four-point half-time deficit could just have easily been a four or five goal lead.
There were a couple of Rebels' mishaps, including a kick-in straight to the Cannons' man on the mark straight out from his goal deep in the second.
But nothing to indicate what would unfold.
The Cannons fired seven goals at a scoreless Rebels in the third quarter.
They blasted eight more in the fourth before the Rebels, via the lively Palmer, could make a goal reply.
The Cannons crushed the Rebels at the stoppages in the second half. Their midfielders were clinically sharp.
"This is what happens against a good side if you allow them to get up and going," Loader said.
"Our midfield needed to work harder. We had a lot of experienced players in our midfield.
"They need to be better than that in finals."
Defender Oscar McDonald was a shining light for the Rebels.
McDonald locked down hard on Cannon Peter Wright, who is being touted as a number one AFL draft prospect.
Wright was nullified and goalless in a game in which the Cannons booted 25 goals.