KANIVA-LEEOR United extended its winning streak to six matches, accounting for Border Districts by 54 points at Goroke on Saturday.
The Cougars got off to a slow start, trailing by five points at the first change, but responded with seven-goal second and final quarters to claim a 19.10 (124) to 11.4 (70) victory.
Cougars coach Neil Reeve said it was pleasing to come away with the points, despite not being at their best.
“Four points is four points. I don’t care if we win by one point or 100 points as long as we win,” he said.
“It was tough work. It was a pretty physical game from the start and they came out to play.
"Our effort and intent was still there, but our skills let us down.
"We weren’t very clean with our ball use and weren’t really sticking to our game plan.”
The Cougars weren’t helped by injuries to key midfielder Paul Adlington, foot, and defender Matthew Skrypek, back.
Leigh Ryan missed with a hamstring injury and Jonty Brown was hampered by a calf injury throughout the game.
But Ben Hawker, seven goals, stood up, as did midfielders Steve Stallion and Dylan Williams.
“Our depth got tested. We copped some injuries early and we had to roll guys through the middle that weren’t used to playing in the middle,” Reeve said.
Skrypek was a key loss.
He had the job of restricting prominent Eagles’ forward Clint Barras, who finished with six goals.
Reeve was also impressed by the performances of James Turner and Scott Brown across half back.
The Eagles were well served by Barras, Stuart Ferenci, Rodney Oliver and Ky Miller, however the result all but ended their chance of making the top five.
Eagles coach Mark Good said despite the result, it was a much-improved performance from his side.
“We were after improvement and to the boys’ credit, they gave it,” he said.
“At some stages there we were within two or three goals.
“The difference was we turned the footy over a little too much and they hurt us.
“I hate losing, but to lose and play well is a bit different.
“When you play well and you lose you can sort of accept that, but when you don’t play well and get belted, it’s hard to swallow.”
In other results, reigning premier Penola remains on top of the ladder after its 22-point win against finals contender Keith, while Padthaway jumped into second with a 122-point thrashing of Naracoorte.
Kingston recorded its first win – against winless Kybybolite – by 36 points, while Mundulla edged out Lucindale by 28 points.