JEPARIT-RAINBOW have stamped their premiership credentials on the HDNFL competition with a barnstorming 42-point win against the second-placed Panthers.
The Storm surged out of the blocks early, before showers turned the game into a wet weather special at Rupanyup.
Storm coach Daniel Batson said he was thrilled by his team's performance.
"We were playing some pretty good footy (before the lockdown) so after having a break I'm happy with that result today," Batson said.
Rather than being defined by the brilliance of a few players, it was a whole team effort that led to one of the Storm's best games this season.
"It's a cliche to say, but I thought the whole team did their job. Obviously Ash Clugston was looking pretty good up forward, as was Scotty Drsicoll through the middle, but it was a team effort rather than one or two stand outs."
The Storm won a hard fought first quarter, making the most of their chances to kick 5.0 (30) to the Panthers' 3.2 (20), before a blistering second quarter saw the Panthers 31-points down at the main break.
Rupanyup regrouped after half-time, kicking four goals to one in the third, to cut the Storm's lead to just 17 points bit it wasn't enough.
The Storm found their groove in the wet and overrun the Panthers' defence to win by 42 points, finishing with 24 scoring shots to 12 for the game.
The Storm saw reward for effort with their dominance across the ground, trapping the ball in their forward fifty for much of the final term and holding the second-placed Panthers' goalless.
While the rain added another element to the game, it the Storm were not too concerned.
It's a winter sport, so you've got to deal with it.Daniel Batson
"It's a winter sport, so you've got to deal with it. It was dry early and we knew we had to get ahead early, so when the rain came the margin was a lot harder to chase down," Batson said.
Batson said the win positioned the Storm well heading into the last few rounds of the season.
"We've got Harrow next week, they're a tough beast. They're still probably the benchmark, they might be a bit down the ladder compared to normal but I still think they're going to be very hard to beat when it comes to finals.
"We'll have a good test again next week, and then finals not long after that. We're just focussing on the short term at the moment, because the top five are so close; we could finish second or we could finish fifth it's hard to say "
Going into their clash with the Southern Roos, the Storm don't have any injury worries, other than "cramping from having a few weeks off" Batson said.
Meanwhile, Harrow-Balmoral themselves were busy cementing their own place in the top five with a strong win over the Swifts at Stawell's North Park.
The Roos flexed their muscles, kicking 17.10 (112) in the wet while holding the Swifts to just 6.5 (41) in response.
Kalkee were left to rue their chances against ladder-leaders Noradjuha-Quantong, going down 11.4 (70) to 7.13 (55).
Damien Cameron and James Gregg led from the front for the Bombers, while Jasper Gunn and Louis Papst stood out for the Kees.
In close game, Taylors Lake held on against a fast finish from Edenhope Apsley to notch their third win of the season by a point - 10.11 (71) to 10.10 (70).
Natimuk United finished strongly against Pimpinio, turning a 6-point three quarter time deficit into a 32 point victory.
The Rams were lead by a 6 goal effort from Nathan Koenig, while Daniel Baker and Nathan Clough were the Tigers' best.
Last but not least, Kaniva-Leeor notched another win, this time against Laharum, coming home 12.7 (79) to 10.5 (65) winners.
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