Buninyong has changed the complexion of the battle to be part of the Central Highlands Football League finals.
The Bombers charged into the thick of the race by ending Springbank's unbeaten run at Buninyong on Saturday.
Buninyong has turned around their status in the space of two weeks, defeating Rokewood-Corindhap (sixth) and then Springbank (top) - the latter by 20 points on Saturday in stunning fashion.
Buninyong's fixture was always going to have it well placed to finish the season strongly, but with two wins after nine rounds it was looking like it might be leaving its run too late.
With Rokewood-Corindhap and Bungaree (eighth) finding wins hard to come by in the top eight and each facing tougher assignments than Buninyong, the Bombers' season has opened up.
Buninyong is suddenly 10th and one game outside the top weight. Percentage is potentially an issue, but it might not yet be a factor.
Learmonth (seventh) lis ooking more secure each week and Waubra (ninth) is now within percentage of Bungaree and it looks like only a matter of time before it claims a finals berth.
Buninyong's remaining fixtures include Beaufort, Bungaree, Carngham-Linton, Creswick, Ballan and Daylesford - all winnable.
Buninyong coach Shaun O'Loughlin said after being a little unlucky to lose to the likes of Hepburn and Skipton after being in control, it was satisfying to get the game on their terms against Springbank and finish it off.
He said winning the contested ball had been a major factor in getting over the Tigers.
"That's a big area of the game we've been working real hard on. We're really happy with the way we're playing around the contest and we've improved our ball movement.
"We put together another strong team performance, something that has been a big part in our improvement."
O'Loughlin said right from the start of the season the Bombers had been aware of their youth and inexperience, and that improvement would come as a season wore on.
He said in addition there were seasoned players working their back into the side, including Geoff Lovett, who was a withdrawal for the Springbank game after being delected to make a return,
Springbank coach Andrew Challis described the loss as an '"off day" for The Tigers.
"We were really sloppy around the contests and defensively we weren't great.
"The loss has probably been coming. We needed a reality check in the way we prepared.
"Our structures haven't held up since the break.
"Their skills were better, they were cleaner at the contests and our forward entries weren't great."
Challis said it had reached a point where some of the players were just expecting the wins to happen.
He said it highlighted the need to keep working hard because without it results like this happened.
Springbank's cause during the day was not helped by the loss of Dylan Shelley from the midfield rotation with injury.
The Tigers' next assignment is Gordon at home, a clash which might ultimately decided top position.
Each has one loss to date.
Damon Folkes - kicked 12 goals for Learmonth against Carngham-Linton.
Skipton has admitted to being out-smarted as it went down to Hepburn by 48 points in the Central Highlands Football League at Hepburn on Saturday.
Emus joint coach Sam Willian said they had successfully hatched a plan to get a win over Gordon the previous week.
"We thought we had another good plan to combat what we thought Hepburn would serve up.
"They did something completely different and caught us off guard.
"It shocked us a bit," Willian said.
He said Skipton had too many players drawn to contests, leaving Hepburn with free man and the space to attack, giving the home team the ability to score quickly.
With Skipton unable to make the necessary adjustments, Hepburn edged away to a 34-point lead by half-time and controlled the match from there.
The win lifts Hepburn one position to fourth and drops Skipton two places to fifth as the contest for the top four and a double chance in the finals hots up.
Hepburn coach Mitch Banner said it was the Burras' best four-quarter effort for the season.
"You cannot fault a performance when you have 22 contributors.
"It gives us the chance to be around the mark in the contest for the top four which is really important going into the finals."
Willian said Hepburn's top-end talent was too much for the Eagles, with him highlighting out veteran star midfielder Andy McKay (four goals) and ruckman Sean Tighe as being simply too good
He said Tighe was as good as any ruckman he had played against.
Gordon returned to winning form and gave Rokewood-Corindhap more worries with a 69-point victory at Gordon.
Although third, the Eagles are effectively level with top side Springbank, with each on one loss.
The Grasshoppers remain in sixth, but the chasing pack is closing in.
Gordon joint coach Adam Toohey was pleased with the response after a loss to Skipton - a theme the Eagles had focused on in the past week.
"We're still not at our best, but we moved the ball really well."
AFL-experienced James Kelly managed to play three quarters for the Eagles.
Jaymes Gorman (hamstring) was the main injury concern for Gordon.
Rokewood-Corindhap joint coach Brad Macgowan said Gordon was just too good - too classy.
"They hurt us on the rebound. We'd go inside 50m and they's slingshot to the other end.
"We knew they were good at that and had plans, but were unable to execute as we'd like.
"Everyone had a crack, but in the end we were undermanned," Macgowan said.
The Grasshoppers lost veteran defender Leigh Ryall from the selected side.
Waubra continues to build momentum.
The Roos have moved within percentage of the top eight after downing Bungaree by 20 points at Waubra.
Each is now on 20 premiership points, with Bungaree eighth thanks to a better percentage.
The Roos have won five of their past six games and face the bottom three sides in the next three weeks.
Waubra coach Matt James said what made the win all the more satisfying was that it had featured only three players from their 2019 premiership side - Darcy Jenkins, James Lukich and Nic Moran.
"It's pretty cool to have come through such a big transition in a relatively short time and be where we are."
James, who was unable to coach owing to illness, said Jenkins and Lukich had done a fine job leading the side in his absence.
He said teenager Tom Ford had also impressed again.
Waubra lost Hayden Hughes late to illness and had two first-gamers - Dylan Page, who was cleared from Redan just hours before clearances closed at the end of June, and who has joined the Roos from Royal Park in the MCDFNL.
For Bungaree, it was its third loss on end.
Demons coach Ryan Waight said they had once again let an opportunity slip.
He the biggest issue was an inability to kick goals.
"We're not getting scored against heavily. We're keeping sides to eight, nine or 10 goals, but that's enough to beat us as we're kicking five, six or seven at best.
"We're trying a few things up forward, but the end result isn't what we want it to be.
"We'll keep at it."
A luckless Ambrose Gillett is in more injury trouble.
He returned from a broken ankle suffered in round one, but in the opening minute suffered a corked glutis and finished the day in hospital.
Daylesford great James Evans took centre stage in his 300th senior club game as the Bulldogs had a dominant 81-point win over Ballan at Daylesford.
The three-time premiership player provided the highlight of the afternoon - kicking a goal in the dying minutes after moving to full forward from the last line of defence.
He was swamped by teammates and minutes later chaired off the ground.
Daylesford controlled the contest from the beginning, holding Ballan goalless in the first quarter, while the Bulldogs capitalised on a strong tail wind to lead by 26 points.
Despite Ballan kicking with the wind in the second term, the lead remained unchanged at the main break before Daylesford took control in the third quarter with six goals to one.
Daylesford had 13 consecutive scoring shots in the third quarter to taske the margin out to 63 points before coasting home by 81.
The Bulldogs' height advantage proved to be the difference as Sam Winnard, Ben Jones and Sam O'Brien all kicked multiple goals for Daylesford and provided strong targets around the ground.
The win provides the Bulldogs with the reassurance that there is a solid gap between them and 16th placed Ballan.
Skipper Harley Bongart was easily Ballan's best, while the Daylesford midfield brigade of Chris Peart, Tom Sullivan and Xavier Walsh constantly drove the home side forward.
Dunnstown kept a grip on second position with a 95-point win over Creswick at Dunnstown.
The Towners were steady through three quarters before an eight-goal last term.
Dunnstown did not escape unscathed though.
Big forward Tom Wardell, in his first game back from a lengthy spell recovering from a fractured foot, lasted only half a game.
Towners coach Glenn Wilkins said Wardell had been taken out of the game at half-time as a precautionary move after he was unable to move as well as he would have liked owing to discomfort in the foot.
"While it's the same foot, it's in a different spot. We're going to have wait and see."
Creswick coach Dean Romeril said he did not feel the Wickers' effort was reflected on the scoreboard.
He said key statistics showed they had almost as much possession as Dunnstown.
"We just let ourselves down when we went forward.
"I was really proud of our endeavour and work rate.
"Dunnstown was the most polished side and took their opportunities," he said.
Romerill said the game then blew out late with Dunnstown adding quick goals in the dying minutes.
Creswick young star Dane-Francis Whitfield in the first half after he suffered a head knock.
Learmonth full forward Damon Folkes had a day out with 12 goals as Learmonth demolished Carngham-Linton by 90 points at Learmonth.
The win helped lift the Lakies to seventh and keep them a game inside the top eight and now level with Rokewood-Corindhap in sixth.
Learmonth coach Nick Willox said it was a game in which it was easy to take the foot off the accelerator, so a major focus was to keep pressing.
He said percentage was important and this was an opportunity it was important to take.
Newlyn had its third win of the season and at the same time almost certainly put Beaufort out of finals calculations at Newlyn.
Unfortunately it is little more than a consolation success for the Cats, which were again boosted by VFL-listed Chris Carey owing to Sandringham having a break.
Newlyn coach Chris Banwell said Carey was a great asset, being able to run out a full match in the ruck or as an alternative go forward.
He said it would be important to finish off the season with a few wins to get some momentum going into 2023.
It was not all good news for the Cats.
Banwell said bustling midfielder Sean Willmott had a broken leg and defender Marcus Tilley had suffered concussion.
He said Newlyn had not had a lot of luck with its leading players when it came to injuries this year.
The Crows are only one game out of the top eight, but have dropped to 11th.
Beaufort joint coach Mitch Jenkins said the Crows were flat.
"We've been a lot competitive in other games and played a good brand of footy, but in this one we seem a bit off.
"It wasn't a great performance, but at the same time credit to Newlyn."
Beaufort was not helped in its quest to take on Carey when ruckman Josh McDermott was grounded with a hamstring injury at the start of the day.
"We adjusted the best we could, but it wasn't our day, finishing with no one on the bench."
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