Ballarat defeated Bacchus Marsh , 9.12. (66) to 5.10. (40) in a thrilling contest at Alfredton Oval.
The Swans struggled to hit forward targets in the opening term, allowing Cobra backliners Burton and Wardell to take a series of intercept marks.
Inaccuracies were punished by the fast-paced Cobras, who responded with three goals in quick succession.
As the siren sounded to end the first term, Ballarat's Marcus Powling took a brilliant contested mark 30 metres out from goal, allowing his side to shorten the margin to only one point at the first break.
However, the kick pulled to the right for a behind, signalling the beginning of a lengthy string of inaccuracies for both sides.
Bacchus Marsh had an exciting start to the second quarter with a goal soccered off the ground by Aaron Willitts at the three-minute mark, but fans would have to wait until the end of the fourth quarter to see the side's fifth and final goal.
Both sides squandered opportunities throughout the second term, with Bacchus Marsh kicking 1.2 to Ballarat's 1.5.
Inaccuracies continued throughout the third quarter.
A sole major scored by the Swans' Joshua Crawford at the end of the term allowed them to take the lead for the first time.
The match had been a backman's game, with both sides' back sixes working hard but seeing little reward on the scoreboard for their effort.
Ballarat's confidence grew in the final term, with an early goal from Lawson Prendergast extending their lead to eight points.
Whilst Bacchus Marsh wasted scoring opportunities, Ballarat surged forward, piling on an additional four goals to Bacchus Marsh's one.
Ballarat coach Joe Carmody's pass mark for his side in 2021 is to win the close games they couldn't win in the last home-and-away season. Their 26-point win on Saturday certainly proves the side is capable of doing so.
Goal Kickers: L. Prendergast 2, W. Garner, J. Crawford, D. Kennedy, S. James, J. Blackburn, A. Hooper, N. Weightman
Best Players: M. Powling, L. Dawson, N. Weightman, S. James, W. Liston, D. Kennedy
BACCHUS MARSH FNC
Goal Kickers: J. Owen 2, A. Willitts 2, J. Owen
Best Players: D. Burton, R. Bartlett, D. Velden, J. Owen, H. King, T. Wardell