Woodend-Hesket has kept its finals chances alive with a thumping win over cellar-dwellers Rockbank in the Riddell District Football League.
Travelling to take on the struggling Rams, the Hawks showed no mercy as they cruised to a 43.21 (279) – 0.2 (2) victory.
Hawks coach Tom Carland said it was hard to read too much into the result, and paid credit to the Rams for some strong efforts in a trying season.
“They’re a club that’s obviously struggling, but full credit to them for fronting up every week because it would be a slog,” Carland said.
“We had to make sure we still held our players to account, and I think we’re only the third team to keep Rockbank goalless, so that was a real focus for us.
“We wanted our leaders to stand up and really show the way for the younger guys, and I thought they were better in that regard in this one.
“It’s hard to judge at times with results like this.
“You walk away happy to get the four points, but for us it was good to keep bringing some young players through and have success with them, which is important.”
The match got off to the perfect start for the visitors, with goals flowing early as the Rams struggled to stem the flow.
Tom O’Loughlin was particularly damaging as he kicked five goals from the wing in the opening term, almost half of the Rams 10.10 scoreline at quarter-time.
While the Rams had some good passages of play at times, they broke down when entering attack and the Hawks were able to rebound with purpose, often going end to end to hit the scoreboard.
It was 150-1 at the long break, and while the Hawks scored less in the second half it was another dark day for the Rams.
O’Loughlin continued his strong work to finish with nine goals for the day, while 14 Hawks kicked majors in the rout.
For the Rams, Jordan Baumgartner continued his strong season to be the best for the home side, with Mark Lalli-Cafini and Jake Mallia also toiling hard all day.
Carland was keeping the result in perspective, with the Hawks still needing a lot to go right to fight for a finals spot.
“We’ll know a lot more about where we sit in a couple of weeks time,” Carland said.
“We’ve got Rupertswood and Melton Centrals, so two big opportunities there. If we get both of those we’re right back in the hunt, but if we drop both we fall away.
“This game showed that when we move the ball quickly and play the game on our terms we can be very dangerous.
“We’re still learning how to play together, but we’ve taken big steps in that area in recent weeks that will hopefully help us when the pressure comes in those big games.”