Northcote Park cemented its spot inside the top-two on the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 ladder with an emphatic 66-point triumph over Heidelberg in Round 9.
A 10-goal third quarter was the highlight in the victory, as the Cougars ran away 22.8 (140) to 10.14 (74) victors at Bill Lawry Oval.
Ricky Fandrich and Jackson Starcevich starred up forward for the home side, kicking seven and six goals respectively, as they took advantage of a depleted Heidelberg defence that was without Josh Gribben, Aaron Crispe and Callum Lewis.
Ash Close and Kyle Thomas also chimed in with two goals apiece for Northcote Park, while Nick Carter and Paul Dirago were among the single goal kickers.
Carter and Dirago were outstanding as their side scored its fourth-straight win, alongside Fandrich and Starcevich. However, it was Jordan Perry who was named best afield, continuing his rich vein of form over the past five weeks.
Sam Grimley booted five majors for Heidelberg in a strong showing that included many towering marks inside forward 50, with Matthew Cecchin the only other multiple goal scorer with two.
Heidelberg had its fair share of the ball early on, however the travelling side was unable to convert.
The Northcote Park midfield soon began to run amok, helping the Cougars pile on five goals in a ten-minute span midway through the first term to race to an early advantage.
Ash Close booted his first before Fandrich kicked his third from the boundary in the dying minutes of the quarter to give the home side a 40-point lead at the first change.
Heidelberg was able to stem the flow early in the second term, winning more of the football through the midfield and getting on the scoreboard through Grimley.
However, the Cougars once again flexed their muscles as the quarter progressed and slammed on five unanswered majors to go into half time 60 points ahead.
The interval did little to halt the home side’s momentum, with Fandrich booting his fourth and fifth goals within the opening two minutes of the third term as the margin creeped towards triple figures.
After conceding the first four goals of the quarter, Heidelberg managed its second goal of the day at the 12-minute mark of the third term when Grimley converted from close range.
However, the Tigers weren’t inspired as Starcevich took a stranglehold on the match, booting four of the next five goals as the margin ballooned out to a game-high 109 points.
Tom Sullivan and Harrison Payne converted goals within two minutes for the Tigers, before Fandrich booted his seventh to again push the margin into triple figures at three quarter time.
An honest address at the final break from coach Frank Raso seemed to fire up Heidelberg, who was simply playing for pride in the final term.
Northcote Park appeared to take the foot off the pedal in the final quarter and the Tigers pounced, booting six unanswered goals, including three to Grimley, to lessen the impact of the defeat.
Despite the fadeout, Northcote Park’s percentage increased from 98.04 to 106.58 and the second-placed Cougars now sit a win and percentage clear of four sides locked on 5-4, ahead of a trip to Shelley Reserve to face North Heidelberg.
Heidelberg faces another big challenge when its host Macleod at Warringal Park, with the sixth-placed Tigers looking to bounce back and end the ladder-leader’s eight-game winning streak.
Final score: Northcote Park 22.8 (140) def Heidelberg 10.14 (74)