WARRACK Eagles jumped to the top of the Wimmera Football League ladder after a comprehensive 96-point win over Nhill at Brim Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
In slippery conditions, the Eagles skipped ahead to a 30-point lead at the first change and made short work of the visiting Tigers.
Dominant second and third quarters opened up a 90-point three-quarter-time advantage – exposing the gulf in class between the two sides.
But the Tigers held their own in the final quarter.
The hosts were only able to extend their lead by six points, winning 22.19 (151) to 8.7 (55).
Eagles key forwards Peter Weir, five goals, and Jae McGrath, three, proved a handful in the air and at ground level, with winger Jake Dalgliesh also contributing three majors.
Eagles coach Tim Inkster said it was a pleasing result going into a two-week break.
“We’re obviously happy to be up that end of the ladder,” he said
“I keep saying we’ve been lucky along the way, but we wanted to get the right result going into the bye so we can re-assess at the half-way mark and hopefully build from here.
“To get an almost 100-point win, we’ll take that – but there’s still plenty of improvement.”
Inkster praised the work of consistent defenders Phil Huebner and Ben Harrison.
“Phil’s been really solid the past month down back, settling into a role in the back pocket,” he said.
“He used the ball really well and Harro did a job on probably their best player.”
Dale Hinkley and Dalgliesh were also important setting up play in the absence of a number of key position players, including Inkster, Clayton Hinkley and Jake Peters, who injured a hamstring.
Inkster said the Eagles’ depth had been tested, but players coming into the senior team were performing.
“We try to play footy where blokes who come in just play their role and do a job and it shouldn’t really matter,” he said.
“The ones who are coming in are doing their job which is what we expect.”
Tigers coach Shane Grover said it was not all doom and gloom for his side.
“The scoreboard doesn’t suggest it, but we’re happy we had a crack for four quarters,” he said.
“We’ve just got to get more consistent, but our younger guys really stood up which was pleasing.”
Youngsters Lachie Barber and Sam Bone impressed for the Tigers, while ruckman George McWaters stood out against Eagles opponent Scott Adams.
“George was really good – that was his best game for the club by a long way which was a massive positive for us,” Grover said.
“He’s really come on and that’s what we recruited him for.”
The Tigers had two multiple goal-kickers, with key forward Daniel McEldrew and Liam Albrecht kicking two goals apiece.
Nhill now has two weeks to set its sights on Stawell, which ladder position would suggest is its best chance of recording a breakthrough 2014 win.