Avenel has all but secured a finals spot with a statement-making 111-point victory over fellow finals aspirant Merrigum.
The Swans are now three games clear in the top six with just three rounds to go — and that includes a guaranteed four points for their Ardmona game in the final round.
Avenel barely gave the Bulldogs a look-in on Saturday, allowing the home side to kick just one goal in each quarter.
Merrigum kicked with the strong breeze in the opening quarter, but the Swans still took a 20-point buffer into quarter-time.
And from then on, it was all Avenel.
The Swans capitalised on the wind in the second and final quarters, with a flurry of goals in both stanzas.
On the odd occasion that the ball did make it into the Dogs’ forward half, Avenel’s defence was quick to rebound it.
The Swans had extended the lead to 56 points by the main break, and 76 points by three-quarter time, before putting the nail in the Dogs’ coffin with an eight-goal final term.
Nine players shared the spoils in front of goal, but it was Chris Burton (six goals) and Cael McCarthy (five) who were dominant.
Burton has been a revelation up forward for the Swans this season, after crossing to the nest from Northern Football League premier Hurstbridge at the start of the season, while McCarthy is returning to form at the right time of the season and was impressive up forward on Saturday.
But no-one was more impressive than midfielders Michael Morgan and Mitch Thomas, who dominated around the ground all day.
The duo was served well by ruckman Paul Arandt, while down back Scott Tyers was at his ever-reliable best.
Saturday’s win makes it two on the trot for the Swans, after they went down to Nagambie three weeks prior — their only loss since round four.
But the side will really know where it’s at after this week, when it plays an in-form Violet Town — the side that dismantled Nagambie by 90 points on Saturday.
Score: Merrigum 4.6 (30) d Avenel 21.15 (141)
Goals: C. Burton 6; C. McCarthy 5; N. Goodwin, L. Drummond, S. Standley 2; O. Gabelich, B. Quick, M. Morgan, A. Green.
Best: M. Morgan, M. Thomas, C. Burton, M. Hurley, S. Tyers, P. Arandt.
Due to low player availability, Avenel was forced to forfeit its match against Merrigum.
A deplorable third quarter has cost Avenel victory — and possibly a top-two spot on the ladder — against Merrigum.
The Swans led by five points at half-time, but could only muster a solitary goal in the third term, while the Bulldogs slammed on seven majors to take a decisive 33-point buffer in to the final change.
The Swans hit back in the final term — in fact, the Swans won every quarter aside from the third — but it was too little, too late.
Merrigum recorded a 22-point win, and Avenel was left to rue a lost opportunity.
The loss saw Avenel slip to third on the ladder, one game behind Tallygaroopna in second and two games behind the Dogs, who are in top spot.
Score: Merrigum 10.9 (69) d Avenel 7.5 (47)
Goals: A. Dowling 3; J. Nipperess, B. Tempest, S. Cusack , Q. Rickman
Best: J. Nipperess, C. Thomson, Q. Rickman, N. Woods, B. Harriden.