Lower Plenty sent a powerful message to the A Plus Labour Division 2 competition with a dominant 70-point victory over the Fitzroy Stars at Sir Doug Nicholls Oval.
In a match that was predicted to be a close affair between two top-four sides, the Bears produced their best showing of the season to win 21.16 (142) to 11.6 (72).
The win was set up in the second quarter, where the visitors piled on eight goals to three to take a commanding 43-point lead into half time.
Despite still remaining in fourth position, Lower Plenty not only gained a massive percentage boost but is now just two points away from the third-placed Stars, who now sit 10 points behind Diamond Creek in second spot.
The rotation of talls Darcy Barden, Corey Sleep, Patrick Flynn and Ciaran Porter in the forward line paid big dividends for Lower Plenty, with the quartet piling on 13 goals between them.
Jordan Sacco was the dominant midfielder on the ground, providing plenty of clearances at important moments.
Peter Hood, Robert Smith and Kain Proctor were the best on a disappointing day for the Stars, who lost at home for the first time this season.
Lower Plenty led by a solitary point midway through the first term before Barden, Flynn and Porter all kicked goals in quick succession to push the margin out to 20 points. However, a late snap from Malcolm Dow reduced the difference to 14 points at the first break.
An even five minutes followed at the start of the second quarter but it was again the visitors who looked the most dangerous.
The Bears kicked four of the first five goals, which included Barden’s third for the afternoon. The contested marking of the visitors seemed too much to handle for Fitzroy.
The Stars managed to kick the next two through Robert Smith to provide some momentum for the struggling home side.
But it was again the Bears who were outplaying the Stars as the visitors, led by Tom Keys, kicked the last four goals of the quarter to lead by 43 points at the main break.
The Stars were aiming to put the pressure back on Lower Plenty at the start of the third quarter and through Kain Proctor’s opening goal and repeat entries inside 50, a comeback was not out of the question.
Despite Fitzroy showing better signs in attack, it could not stop Lower Plenty’s forward threats, with the visitors kicking four goals in the term to stretch their advantage to 50 points at the last change.
Peter Hood kicked an early goal at the start of the last quarter to potentially give the Stars a glimmer of hope.
However the increasing number of stoppages tired out the home side, as Lower Plenty gradually wore out the Stars and piled on the last four goals of the game to run out deserving 70-point winners.
The win improves Lower Plenty’s finals chances in what looms as a massive month for the club, with matches to come against Thomastown, North Heidelberg and Diamond Creek in the next three weeks.
The Stars will look to keep hold of third place when they travel to Lalor in Round 13.
Final score: Fitzroy Stars 11.6 (72) def by Lower Plenty 21.16 (142)