A flying start helped The Rock-Yerong Creek to a convincing seven-goal win against the Northern Jets on Saturday but, in terms of building a season, co-coaches Brad Aiken and Heath Russell were more concerned by the way they finished.
The Magpies dominated the first half at Ariah Park, opening up the Jets almost at will, for a 30-point lead by quarter-time and six more goals in the second quarter.
By the last break, the margin was up to 54 points, before the Jets lifted to limit the damage to 17.11 (113) to 10.10 (70).
On a day when a two-game break emerged between the bottom four sides and the top five, TRYC sit third on percentage, among the five teams with just one loss. But they know they'll have to improve if they want to keep it that way.
"Our midfield I thought had the ascendancy early... and when we had to transition from the back half, I think it's coming together," Russell said.
"When we move the footy well, we are a good footy team. But being able to do it for longer is the challenge.
"It's not often you win and you're a bit disappointed but that's probably because we went away from the things that we want to do."
Russell himself thrived on their midfeld dominance early, kicking four first-half goals, three of them before quarter-time.
The Jets had few answers early when the visitors were up and going but Aiken and Russell said that when other teams put them under pressure, they have to learn not to drop their intensity.
Their Canberra quartet were strong across the ground with Joe Hancock having a big say in the midfield where the Jets were on top early while Riley Budd was outstanding across centre-half-back, giving Matt Wallis a tough day out until the last quarter.
Aiken said they let Budd down in the last quarter by allowing the Jets an easier passage out of the middle to Wallis, who'd kicked 1.1 in three quarters but had five scoring shots in the last.
Up forward, Joey Kerin enjoyed five goals for the 'Pies but it was Dean Biermann who starred. He finished with six (five in the first half) in a hard-working, strong marking, and generally brilliant performance.
Aiden Ridley was also valuable across half-back and Todd Hannam impressive.
For all the lessons they might learn, TRYC knew it was an important win in the context of finals berths, along with next week's battle against Charles Sturt University.
"We almost identified today and next week as eight point games really, in that top five battle," Russell said.
"We set finals footy as our goal and these are two teams that could be really vying with us for fifth spot."
One big setback for the 'Pies came before the game, with Jake Adams' ankle injury worse than expected. Serious ligament damage could see him out for two months. Cody Cool and Will Adams took the duties on Saturday.
The Jets sit sixth, ahead of Coleambally, after one win in four games. Coach Josh Avis tried to lift his side when the going was tough while Nathan Tiyce and Stephen Coate chipped in. When they got on top, Mitch Haddrill, Chris Bell and Sam Fisher were amongst it. Further injuries didn't help their cause.
TRYC 5.7, 11.9, 14.11, 17.11 (113)
Northern Jets 1.1, 4.4, 6.5, 10.10 (70)
Goals: (TRYC) Dean Biermann 6, Joseph Kerin 5, Heath Russell 4, Joseph Hancock 1, Cooper Diessel 1; (Northern Jets) Matthew Wallis 3, Mitchell Haddrill 2, Chris Bell 2, Stephen Coate 1, Samuel Fisher 1, Josh Roscarel 1.
Best: (TRYC) Dean Biermann, Todd Hannam, Aiden Ridley, Riley Budd, Joseph Hancock, Cody Cool; (Northern Jets) Nathan Tiyce, Stephen Coate, James Bray, Matthew Wallis, Joshua Avis, Mitchell Haddrill.
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