Shepparton fine-tuned its game in the penultimate round before finals, accounting for the Shepparton Swans with ease.
The Bears were expected to win — and win big — at Princess Park and they did exactly that as the consistent Nik Rokahr kicked two goals in a best-on-ground performance.
But the Swans enjoyed a small victory in keeping the margin to 89 points, a 29-point improvement on their first encounter with Shepparton this year.
The home side ran with the early momentum of the game and closed the ball in their attack for the opening minutes as it posted the first goal of the match.
But inevitably the Bears took control as by the time spectators had settled into their seats Shepparton had already added two goals of its own, on its way to a 32-point lead at the first break.
With the Swans’ season coming to an end, coach Paul Griffiths said his young side was starting to show exhaustion.
‘‘We were good at times, there were some lapses where we couldn’t get to the contest, the young fellas were pushing, but once fatigue sets in thinking goes with it and there were some silly errors,’’ Griffiths said.
‘‘(On Saturday) the season was starting to take its toll and Shepparton are a very good side and well drilled, no doubt Brad (Shepparton coach Brad Campbell) wants to clean up a couple of things before finals and try a few things, but (on Saturday) they looked like they were in good nick.’’
Swans star BJ Squire was back playing in the midfield after spending last week’s match against Mooroopna in the forward line as he battled a quad tear.
Squire was among those that kept persisting despite the barrage from the opposition, while Quade Johnstone and Dylan Kerr also stood tall.
But the second-placed side in the competition had structures to consolidate before finals.
Eleven Bears registered at least a goal with power forward James Wong scoring three majors.
Ben Davies also snared three goals as the experienced midfielder continues to press a claim for the Morrison Medal.
Shepparton enters its final match of the season against another lowly ranked side in Mooroopna on the back of a polished performance.