Northern Districts Tigers served notice of their premiership ambitions with a 53-point thrashing of premiers Wollongong Bulldogs in Saturday's South Coast AFL clash at Keira Oval.
The Tigers delivered a ferocious attack on the contest and won every quarter in a 13.14 (92) to 4.15 (39) victory.
Wollongong were coming off a bruising nine-point win over leaders Kiama and were not at full strength but were no match for a Tigers side who have now beaten the top two sides, Kiama and the Dogs, this season.
"It was a grand final for us if we want to finish top two which is still our goal," Tigers coach Leigh Forsyth said post-match.
"They had players out and we were close to our best 22, but any way you looked at it, it was emphatic.
"We wanted to bustle them and our tackling was enormous, forced turnovers from which we moved the ball well and got it forward.
"We've got some firepower we probably haven't had before and 27 scoring shots is a pretty good day against the premiers."
Forsyth was delighted with the defensive efforts of full-back Nick Pugh and centre half-back Jared Wilson, while new signing, ex-Illawarra Lions midfielder Ken Ewen-Chappell, booted three goals in his second game for the club.
While "cautiously optimistic", the victory was a significant step forward and Forsyth warned the club could not get ahead of itself.
"No doubt Wollongong will park this in the rear view mirror and be a lot tougher next time around. We know that and it'll be up to us to step up again."
Norths can move ahead of third-placed Bomaderry if they beat improving Shellharbour in their rescheduled round two clash on Wednesday night (7pm) at Hollymount Park.
In other round 13 games, Bomaderry outlasted Shellharbour 11.10 (76) to 9.12 (66) at Myimbarr Oval.
Nowra booted the first goal of the game against Kiama but from there the Power were ruthless in a 19.16 (130) to 1.3 (9) contest at Bonaira Oval.
Ricky Neels booted six goals for Kiama.
Figtree moved to fifth with an 121-point win over Albatross. Port Kembla had the bye.