Bacchus Marsh is on course for back-to-back Ballarat Football League premierships.
However, the Cobras’ inner sanctum is a long way from any such talk – even after inflicting Lake Wendouree’s first defeat of the season at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
Bacchus Marsh took the finals-like encounter away from Lakers with a seven-goal last quarter for a 32-point win.
This creates a bottleneck at the top of the ladder, with Darley, Bacchus Marsh and Lake Wendouree each with one loss.
Although there was a lot to like about the Cobras, coach Travis Hodgson is far from happy with repeated third quarter lapses.
Bacchus Marsh led by 22 points at half-time, but was dominated by Lakers after the break as the visitors added 5.0 to 0.6.
Hodgson said the only consolation was that the Cobras had more scoring shots and the match review would focus almost exclusively on the unwanted third term trend.
He said it was all the more puzzling as to why it was happening given the strong finishes they were producing.
Each made surges early.
Midfielder Nick Peters led from the front and strong-marking key forwards Jack Elkington (five goals) and Lucas Anderson (four goals) provided the polish with the first seven goals.
For Bacchus Marsh, ruckman Dean Heta excelled around the ground in the absence of Daniel Burton, who was replaced in the selected line-up by Lachie Phyland in for his first game of the year, with Tyson Shea and Scott Sherlock all over the ball at ground level.
Lake Wendouree was not helped late by reduced rotations caused by the loss of dangerous forward Nathan Pring (hamstring) in the first quarter, key defender Ben Hayes (knee) in the second and Luke Bucknall (ankle) in the third.
However, coach Tim Malone was not looking for excuses post-match. “They out-pressured us.”
He said while the third quarter showed what Lakers were capable of by pushing long and deep into attack, an inability to match Bacchus Marsh’s pressure on the man and ball had seen them come up short.
It was late when the likes of Declan Phyland (four goals) and the persistence of youngster Billy Griffiths (three goals) were able to keep going that Lakers lost touch.
Ryley Stuhldreier was out of the game early for the Cobras with hamstring soreness.