Any lingering doubt about North Ballarat's premiership credentials has disappeared after Brendan McCartney's men held their nerve to notch a 20-point win against Melton in a contest worthy of its heavyweight billing.
After surviving a third-quarter scare, the Roosters were at their clinical and unflappable best to run out 11.5 (71) to 7.9 (51) victors in front of an electric home crowd.
The win puts North Ballarat two games clear of second-place Melton, and creates a 12-point buffer between the rest of the pack.
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Both sides entered the contest having only lost one game beforehand, but their contrasting preparations were glaringly obvious.
North Ballarat - now on a five-match winning streak - immediately set the tempo from the first centre bounce.
After constant forward pressure, the Roosters forced the ball to Harry Loader in the forward pocket, who duly kicked the game's first goal within three minutes.
Rising force Josh Chatfield would kick his first of the day less than a minute later, and the hosts quickly had the ascendancy.
Melton started like a side that hadn't played a game in the past five weeks.
With only two weeks of semi-normal training under the Bloods' belt, it came as little surprise that the Melbourne-based club had a slow, one-point opening quarter.
Aaron Tymms asked for more energy in his quarter-time address, and he didn't have to wait long.
Liam Carter found himself in space two minutes in and calmly kicked his side's first major.
An arm-wrestle would follow as both sides lifted to a higher intensity. While it helped the Bloods get into the game, it came with costly skill errors and rushed decisions.
North Ballarat acted ruthlessly on any Melton missteps, kicking two late goals to enter halftime with a 6.2 (38) to 1.5 (11) lead.
Melton livewire Kevin Klix opened the third term with individual brilliance.
The small forward led for a strong mark on the edge of the 50marc, turned and guided the ball through an open goalmouth to hand the Bloods a needed boost.
Less than a minute later, Klix again led to space in front of goal and teased the ball over the goalline from more than 50 metres out to cut the deficit back to 16 points.
Two Ryan Carter majors, and a long-range Riley Walker bomb completed the 10-minute scoring blitz and handed Melton the lead for the first time in the game.
However, it didn't take North Ballarat long to respond; Jack Riding restoring the lead in the 25th minute.
There was enough time left for Jamie Quick to nab a goal from outside the arc and give the hosts a nine-point lead heading into the final term.
From the first centre-bounce, it was clear the Bloods had a mountain to climb.
North Ballarat's midfield wrestled control and set up two early goals through sheer force and defensive pressure.
A late Jye Lockett (two goals) effort that snuck inside the post was the perfect conclusion to an influential day in the Roosters' season.
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