East Wagga-Kooringal is the only unbeaten team five rounds into the Farrer League after a dominant 59-point victory against Charles Sturt University on Saturday, which also handed them outright top spot on the ladder.
The Hawks' 15.10 (100) to 6.5 (41) win at Gumly - combined with Temora's loss to Marrar and a looming double bye - ensures they'll sail through the rest of May, at least, as the competition leaders.
Coach Matt Hard was rapt to see their most convincing win of the season ahead of next week's representative break and a club bye.
"I thought today was a big step in the right direction. I thought we were a lot more consistent than we have been and probably had the footy on our terms for a lot longer," Hard said.
The Hawks took a first quarter lead through three goals to Chris Ladhams who produced a nice snap, a good mark and set shot, and a grubber after crumbing a contest.
CSU scored the first goal of the second term to be down by seven points but they wouldn't get as close again. Despite producing some clean passages of play, they were too few and too far between while EWK took control of the midfield and dominated field position.
Still, two goals to Brayden Ambler, both after marking pinpoint passes from Lachie Moore - who was a standout for CSU - and another to Max Hanrahan from 50m kept them in it just before half-time, only to see Chris Jackson jag his second of the quarter for EWK, for a 17-point lead.
But the Hawks answered the coach's call for a big third term, putting the game away when they spent most of the quarter camped up forward, or turning the Bushpigs around on half-back. They kicked 1.7 before Ben Absolum, Jarrod Turner and Keigan applied the scoreboard pressure late for a 42-point lead at the last change.
"If you're up by three goals at half-time, you want to come in six or seven up at three-quarter-time and try to get more games beyond doubt than not," EWK coach Matt Hard said.
"And I thought today we probably done that. The boys went out and attacked the footy really well and probably played a better style of footy."
The home side finished it off with a strong-marking Jackson finding his third, Ladhams snaring a late double to finish with six, and James Hodges bringing up triple figures on the scoreboard.
Absolum was superb across half-back and through the middle, and kicked a couple of brilliant goals, while Brocke Argus had his best game of the year in his 150th appearance and North-Flanigan produced a big game with Nick Hull out.
The Hawks were also without Daniel Hitchens, Ash Hard and Danny Bromham, giving them plenty of welcome selection headaches as well as that unbeaten record.
"We probably didn't sit down and goal-set at the start of the year (to be unbeaten at this point) but it's always good going into a double bye in a good position," Hard said.
"It doesn't mean a great deal but it gives us a bit of confidence going forward I think."
The result was a let-down for the Bushpigs who are now one win from four outings. After being in positions to beat both Temora and North Wagga so far this year, they were brought back down to earth by the Hawks. They face Marrar and The Rock-Yerong Creek in their next two outings.
EWK's next game is at Marrar on June 1.
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