EDENHOPE-APSLEY spoiled Natimuk United's big night at Horsham City Oval with a 57-point win.
It was United's first home match since merging, and the first Horsham District Football Netball League match for premiership points played under lights.
The stage was set for an entertaining encounter, but the crowd was treated to a physical, defensive slugfest.
Both teams got numbers behind the ball and attacked the ball with aggression.
Saint Bernard Kealy came off the ground with concussion in the second quarter.
While several players were sore after the match, Kealy was the only significant casualty.
The Saints had the better of the midfield battle and earned plenty of scoring shots, but kicked a wasteful 11.20 (86) to Natimuk United's 4.5 (29).
Edenhope-Apsley coach Grant Coxon said there was room for improvement, but his team had put in a pleasing effort.
"We missed a lot of set shots, but I think we got the ball a lot more than they did through the middle of the ground and we got the ball forward a lot," he said.
"They had numbers behind the ball all game, and it was a credit to their pressure as well that we were inaccurate."
Young gun Sam McClure impressed in his first senior game for the year, as did regular midfield contributors Dave McLeish and Brent Christie.
Tom Clissold stood up for the Saints in the forward line with four goals and Mark Riley was influential at centre-half back.
Rams coach Tim Friend was named best afield for the team, and Ash Pekin was strong through the middle of the ground.
Damien Kilpatrick, Jono Lovel, Bryce Hateley and Jesse Wilkinson each finished with one goal, but the Rams suffered from poor delivery and were without a designated spearhead.
Despite the margin, Friend said his side had improved after a disappointing first round outing against Swifts.
"That was the toughest and most physical game I've played in the district league for a number of years," he said.
"I was happy with the endeavour of our boys and the tackling pressure was good compared to last week, it was like a totally different team."