The minor premiership has been Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes' to lose all year, but the baton has been passed to Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong after they sent a huge statement in a tenacious 25-point victory at Ganmain Sportsground on Saturday.
The 10.7 (67) to 5.12 (42) scoreline probably flattered the previously unbeaten Goannas, who were beaten convincingly at the contest for most of the game, the Lions setting up the win with five unanswered third quarter goals.
The Lions' only previous defeat was a 49-point loss to the Goannas in round five, and motivation to avenge that loss has propelled them to the top of the table with a superior percentage.
MCUE's dirty day was compounded by the loss of defenders Nick Collins (concussion) and Dom Bunyan (shoulder), who played no further part after half-time.
Trent Cohalan also carried an adductor injury into the game and is expected to miss game time.
The match was a dogfight up until half-time, with the Lions ahead by just four points, but their more efficient ball movement in the third quarter reaped dividends.
In slippery conditions the Goannas were guilty of overusing the ball for most of the contest, and Daniel Foley had a day out for the Lions with three goals.
Without injured spearheads Riley Corbett and George Alexander up forward, the Lions reshuffled their forward line to play the undersized Jack McCaig at full forward.
Matt Hamblin kicked two classy running goals in the third term and Jono Neville did a fine job on Goannas forward George Kendall.
GGGM coach Sam Martyn suffered a suspected torn quad in the final quarter, in the only downside for the victors.
"Conditions weren't suited to free-flowing footy so went back to grinding it out, locking it down and trying to get the ball in the forward half," Martyn said.
"Absolutely it (knowing we can beat them) plays a role. We played them last time after beating four teams lower than us on the ladder, and some self doubt creeps in.
"It (loss of key forwards) does make us unpredictable in a way. Jack McCaig played an unselfish role playing at full forward and Angus Cumming played an instrumental role, especially early when the game was on the line."
Goannas coach Jeremy Rowe refused to use injuries as an excuse, and said they were simply "outhunted" by the hosts.
"Being really honest I thought they got the job done in the first three quarters. We stayed in the arm wrestle until the third, but I thought they had us covered in every single facet of the game.
"We just didn't feel like we adapted to almost anything today, both the conditions and the heat of the game."
"Ganmain were terrific. We got outhunted, in the first three quarters they would have won 90 per cent of the one-on-one contests. Their urgency and attack on the loose ball was well and above ours.
"We're very disappointed and there's going to be no rubbish talk about that's the loss we needed, because that's already making excuses. I actually feel sick after being up for so long to lose so poorly, but I do have a belief losing is a worthwhile thing to go through as long as you learn from it."
GGGM 2.0 3.2 8.6 10.7 (67) def MCUE 1.2 2.4 3.8 5.12 (42)
Goals: GGGM - Daniel Foley 3, Matthew Hamblin 2, Jack McCaig, Angus Cumming, Thomas Sase, Thomas Anderson, Kai Watts; MCUE - Trent Castles 3, Brayden Ambler 2
Best: GGGM - Ben Walsh, Jack Sase, Angus Cumming, Aaron Proctor, Jonathon Neville, Luke Walsh; MCUE - Charlie Chambers, Ryan Price, Padric Griffin, Ryan Turnbull, Pat Killalea, Jake Hindmarsh
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