A DOMINANT first quarter from the Gunnedah Bulldogs helped set up a comfortable 136-point win over the Tamworth Swans at Tamworth No.1 Oval.
Coming into Saturday's clash unbeaten and atop the AFL North West ladder, the Bulldogs wasted little time making their mark on the scoreboard, kicking three goals inside the first five minutes.
A returning Adam Sinclair (eight goals) and a swag of experienced midfielders such as Mark Barrow, Ben Maher and Andrew George, helped the Dogs take a 38-point lead into quarter-time.
Despite kicking the first goal of the second term, things only got worse for the Swans as Mark Ewington (six goals) and Jacob Spackman hit the scoreboard to help extend the Bulldogs lead to 70 points at half-time.
A resilient response after half-time from Swans young guns Liam Dunn, Nick Bacon and Ed George helped drag their side back into the contest with the first three goals of the third term.
However, their efforts were in vein as the Bulldogs looked to take their lead into triple figures.
The final quarter saw the Dogs pile on the punishment, running out 27-15-177 to 6-5-41 winners.
Bulldogs captain Ben Maher said he was proud of his side's ability to run the game out.
"Our skills were sensational today [Saturday]," Maher told the Leader.
"I think the only thing I could really fault from the boys was that at times we over-used our hand-passes.
"Other than that it was a really strong performance and I think we are just starting to peak at the right time."
Maher said having Sinclair in the forward line added a "handy leading option" to the side.
"Having him [Sinclair] down there really gives us a big target to kick to up forward," he said.
"He reminds me a lot of how Greg Piggot played for us in 2017, he likes to use his body and take a strong mark.
"I think Adam only needs one more game to qualify for finals, so hopefully he can get that under his belt and be good to go."
For the Swans the defeat is the side's second heavy loss in a row, after going down by 132 points at the hands of the Inverell Saints last week.
Swans coach Paul Kelly said the side would look to put the results behind them.
"It didn't go to plan for us today [Saturday], but I suppose the important thing for us now will be to keep the boys up mentally," Kelly said.
"The thing is we have come up against two pretty experienced, well-drilled sides and a lot of our guys are still pretty green.
"But, at times against both sides we have shown we can match it with them, so we will look to focus more on that."