PERENNIAL powerhouse Osborne has sent an ominous warning to the rest of the competition by steamrolling the previously undefeated Rand-Walbundrie by 42 points at Rand on Saturday.
The Cats flexed their muscles in the opening quarter, kicking five goals to three and stretched their lead at every change to record a 16.5 (101) to 8.11 (59) victory.
Many pundits wrote Osborne off as a finals contender after a lean off-season on the recruiting front and the departure of premiership stars Matt Clarke, Nic O’Connell, Luke Heyme and Djali Bloomfield.
But the Cats have been able to defy their critics to sit second on the ladder with a 5-1 record having played four of last year’s top-six sides.
The 2012 premiers can cement their spot inside the top-two over the next four rounds with matches against Culcairn, Walla, Murray Magpies and Billabong Crows.
Osborne will start a red-hot favourite in all four encounters.
In a further boost, premiership coach Daniel McAlister said the Cats were “highly likely” to top up their list with one or two further recruits before the June 30 clearance deadline.
“It would be negligent of me not to be on the lookout for recruits before the deadline,” McAlister said.
“I think every club is still actively recruiting before the deadline and the those who say they aren’t are kidding themselves.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves and the way I look at it we have got five wins in the bank and need at least another five to make finals.
“We won’t be treating any side lightly and realise we could have easily started the season 0-6 after being handed a tough early draw.
“A lot of people, rightly so, probably thought we would start the season 0-6 based on our recruiting and the losses we had.
“But to the boys’ credit they have gelled particularly well, have stuck to the game plan and do their job week in and week out.
“We have been able to beat sides that are probably better than us on paper and prove a few critics wrong.”
Centre half-forward Jamie Parr celebrated his 100th match with a best-on-ground performance, receiving plenty of support from spearhead Luke Adams and McAlister, who combined for nine goals.
McAlister has moved to second on the goalkicking table with 20 majors and provides a lively and deadly accurate forward target.
The only sour note for the Cats was injuries to Simon Lane (knee) and Matt Klemke (shoulder).
In other matches, Billabong Crows scored a thrilling two-point win over Walla.
Brett Garland returned to form with six goals in Jindera’s impressive 44-point victory over Lockhart.
Howlong and CDHBU both enjoyed comfortable victories over Culcairn and Holbrook respectively.