The Bunbury Bulldogs stand a reasonable chance of attaining back-to-back South West Football League premiership titles.
Sitting third on the ladder, Bunbury was in a good place ahead of its clash with Augusta-Margaret River at PC Payne Park in round 14.
The Hawks, however, seeked to remain in the top five and qualify for finals football.
Fighting off wind and rain, both teams marched onto the pitch with fire in their bellies.
The first quarter got off to a scrappy start with the wind proving difficult for both sides.
The Hawks stuck to their usual method of running out to an early lead.
Goals from Jack Hick and Mitchell Lynn worried Bulldogs on and off the field.
Bunbury fans then breathed a sigh of relief, as Jordan Falco and Jackson Oliver kicked one goal each during the first term.
Goals to Bunbury star Brett Peake and Hawk Mitchell Gerrans turned the game into an all-out battle.
Bunbury crossed the line in front – 3.4.22 to 3.0.18 – at quarter time, with Augusta-Margaret River not too far behind.
Following a couple of near misses from both teams, Bulldogs Dylan Heasman and Matt Martin kicked their first goals of the game and put Bunbury further in front.
The Hawks responded with a strong effort from Matthew Jukes, kicking his first of three goals for the clash.
Martin slotted his second for the game, right before Brett Dobson kept Augusta-Margaret River's hopes of victory alive and well.
Dobson had a stellar performance and finished the second quarter with two late goals.
In front 6.6.42 to 6.2.38 at the main break, Bunbury appeared troubled by Augusta-Margaret River’s solid collection of forwards.
Both teams were determined in the second half, with the onset of rain doing little to slow them down.
Shortly after the Hawks’ seventh of the contest, Bulldogs Jesse Gribble, Peake, and Heasman extended the home side’s lead early in the third.
Refusing to be taken down easily, the Hawks hit back thanks to the accurate kicking of James Price and Lynn.
Martin proved his worth and scored an impressive four goals in the third quarter with a possible fifth hitting the post.
Mitchell Payne kicked his first for the Hawks towards the end of the term, before Gribble and Liam Renton’s goals eased the home crowd’s nerves.
After carrying a 33-point lead into the final term, Bunbury was forced to contend with a reinvigorated Hawks’ line-up.
Augusta-Margaret River’s forwards were unlucky, with several attempts straying wide in the squally conditions.
Hick and Jukes shrunk the gap, before Peake’s third put the potential for a Hawks’ comeback firmly in doubt.
Bunbury cheered as the siren sounded, having earned a 16.8.104 to 12.10.82 win.
Donnybrook ran out to its 11th win of the season with a 11.14.80 to 5.14.44 result against Harvey.
The Dons are favourite to take home the 2018 premiership, while The Bulls are stuck dwelling at the bottom of the ladder.
Carey Park’s season has gone from bad to worse, with the Panthers suffering a 10.8.68 to 8.7.55 loss to Busselton.
Eaton remains second following its 9.15.69 to 4.10.34 win over Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.
Hands Oval played host to South Bunbury’s 10.15.75 to 4.9.33 victory over Collie on Sunday.
South West powerhouses Leigh Kohlmann, Liam McKenna, Mitch Andrews, Jesse Crichton and Jace Cormack starred for the Western Australia Country Football League club during its showdown with South Australia last weekend.
Kohlmann kicked two goals, while Crichton notched up one.
In a nail-biting contest, South Australia collected a 10.12.72 to 10.7.67 victory.
Double victory for the Hawks
Young Hawk Cody Rodgers had an impressive game on Sunday, kicking fives goals in their win against the Bunbury Bulldogs.
It was a slow start for the colts side, only kicking one goal for the first quarter while Bunbury kicked three.
The tables turned in the second term, with AMR kicking three and the home side kicking just one goal.
It was a battle of who could take the advantage of the goal scoring end, with Bunbury kicking ahead in the third quarter with three goals to the Hawks one.
The Hawks were able to capitalise on having the goal scoring end in the last quarter, piling on five majors and keeping Bunbury goalless.
The final score was 7.9 (51) to 10.5 (65).
The AMR reserves were also successful at Payne Park with a 34 point win over the Bulldogs.
It was a tight game in the first half with both teams kicking two goals in the first quarter and four goals in the second.
Bunbury were edging out in front at half time after kicking seven behinds in the first quarter and another two in the second.
However, the Bulldogs struggled to get a goal in the second half, in fact they were goalless while the Hawks piled on four in the third and three in the last quarter.
The final score was 6.13 (49) to 13.5(83).
Next week the Hawks will be hosting Eaton Boomers.