Kyabram had little trouble repeating its grand final heroics, smashing Shepparton by 66 points as the sides renewed their rivalry on Saturday.
By quarter-time the Bombers had opened up a match-winning lead at the Kyabram Recreation Reserve with seven goals to none, their class too much for the Bears to overcome.
Kicking with the wind, the winners of 48 straight games scored 14.12 to 0.5 for the first and third quarters, with their impenetrable back line equal to the task.
Shepparton got three goals from the returning John Bradaric but it was one of few highlights on a tough day against the league’s best.
Bears’ coach Sean Harrap said his side had struggled to deal with the Bombers.
‘‘They’re just a bloody good side, and they’ll take some beating,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll take some learnings out of it, our ball movement wasn’t too bad but their back line is really strong and hard to penetrate.
‘‘They used the ball and executed a lot better than us. At times we played some good footy in patches but the wind was very tricky and the used it a lot better.’’
The Bombers’ bigger bodies brutalised the Bears, and Harrap said it had his side on the back foot for much of the day.
‘‘A lot of tackles, they’re really strong bodies, and they’ll slip the tackle and, boom, they’re away,’’ he said.
‘‘It just gives them momentum when you’re looking to hold it up and force the stoppage.
‘‘They work really well as a team, and know their gameplan and structures; they’re a massive challenge for every side.’’
For Kyabram, it was yet another Saturday stroll in the park, in complete control for the vast majority.
It had 10 of 21 players hit the scoreboard, and coach Paul Newman said it was his side near its best.
‘‘I was really happy with it, it was the best game we’ve put together all year,’’ he said.
‘‘Our ball use was great, and we started well which has been our Achilles heel this season. We used the ball really cleanly in the first and third quarters.’’
Lachie Smith continued outstanding form with a commanding half-back display, also pushing forward for two goals.
But as usual, their were many Bomber stars shining, with Sam Sheldon, Pat Wearden, Liam Ogden and Brad Mangan among them.
Shepparton, missing co-captain Ash Holland with an illness, produced with the wind in the second term but could not keep up the tempo.
‘‘They’re a quality team, the difference was we were able to execute going inside 50,’’ Newman said.
‘‘Their good players played well, (David) Stretton, (Ben) Davies and (Xavier) Stevenson were great and Ash Holland going out late was obviously a huge loss because he gives them so much.
Kyabram handed a debut to 16-year-old Bendigo Pioneer Riley Ironside, who impressed in his first senior hit-out.
‘‘He’s a really skilled kid, he’s mid-sized with clean hands, he’s got great athleticism and is really quick,’’ Newman said.
‘‘He’s got a really high ceiling for the future and we’d like to give him some more games this season, but I’d imagine he’d be back in the Pioneers side soon.’’
Kyabram resumes another rivalry with Rochester after the interleague bye, while Shepparton will host Euroa in an intriguing.