HORSHAM Saints have moved within a game of the competition's top two teams following its 35-point win at Ararat on Saturday.
The fast-starting Saints got off to a flyer against their fellow finals contenders, kicking the first six goals before taking a 15.11 (101) to 10.6 (66) victory.
Ararat coach David Hosking said the lead was too big to overturn.
"They were too good," he said.
"They kicked 6.2 before we'd even scored and it was too far back from there that was the difference.
"They got a lot of the ball, they spread really well and ran in numbers."
The win was the Saints' fifth in succession.
Coach Shayne Breuer said it was some of the best footy his side had produced for the season.
"Our first half set it up it was probably one of the best halves of footy we've played," he said.
"Our endeavour and skill level was up and the boys used the ball well."
The Rats fought their way back into the contest with a four-goal-to-zero third term to reduce the margin to 26 points at the final change, but the Saints finished the stronger of the teams.
Breuer said it was an important win as the club eyed a top three berth.
"We're thinking about that a little bit, but it's more about keeping away from sixth spot," he said. "You want to get that top three spot, but our main driver is to keep winning and playing good footy."
Nathan Clough was named the Saints' best, while defender Garry Hallam and midfielder Sam Clyne also put in strong performances.
Full-forward Gavin Kelm booted four goals one more than Rats sharp-shooter Beau Cosson.
Rats small-forward Tyler Cronin returned from injury to kick three goals, while midfielders Dan Mendes and Harry Ganley were among the host's best.
Interleague defender Jake Williamson also returned from injury unscathed, while the Saints were well-served by permit player Sam Jasper of Kalkee