BRYCE Campbell dominated as Corowa- Rutherglen put the Ovens and Murray on notice with a 19-point win over Wangaratta Rovers on Saturday.
The Roos’ coach put in his best performance since taking the job, putting the Hawks to the sword at the W.J. Findlay Oval as they surged two wins clear of their opponent in fourth spot on the ladder.
They’ve won five of their first seven games.
And in an ominous warning, Campbell said the Roos would only get better with a handful of key players still to return to the side.
Midfield ace James Brain (knee), Mick Collins (ribs) and Damien Wilson (concussion) all sat out Saturday’s win.
“I can’t put gauge on it but we will improve because they are all classy players,” Campbell said.
“Kade Kuschert will only get better, as well.
“I was pretty confident going into the game, to be honest.
“I knew this was our test but I thought we came through really well.
“We still had a few lapses, which happens with a young side, but we are starting to play the best footy we have all year.
“This group is growing enormously, but we will still get better.”
Former AFL player Campbell, who also racked up more than 100 SANFL games, started in the midfield on Saturday and immediately set a standard the rest of his troops followed.
His work around the ground was very strong.
Campbell also kicked three goals, with his third of the day an absolute pearler from the boundary that gave the Roos a game-high lead of 28 points, midway through the third term.
The Hawks led by as much as 21 points, 10 minutes into the second quarter but fell apart from there.
Corowa-Rutherglen piled on the next eight goals of the game.
The Roos kicked four majors in the dying stages of the first half to pinch the lead, ramming home another four on the trot straight after the main break.
They had winners all over the ground.
While Campbell was the standout, Jarred Lane and Jamie Seymour also found plenty of the ball.
James Svarc, who battled early in defence, had a serious impact forward of centre in the second half and finished the game one of the Roos’ best players.
Al Austin and returning star Kade Kuschert completely blanketed the influence of much-vaunted Rovers’ duo Daniel Archer and Jarrad Boumann.
Neither kicked a goal for the game.
Lachie McLarty had the better of Hawks’ livewire Alex Marklew and took one of the marks of the season in the early stages of the final quarter.
More importantly, McLarty lifted his team with a kamikaze effort.
Luke Gestier undoubtedly had the better of Hawks’ skipper Tyson Hartwig.
The Roos’ star forward took six marks inside 50 and kicked three goals.
A disappointed Wangaratta Rovers’ coach, Paul Maher, said the Hawks had plenty of work to do.
“We’ve got to do a bit of soul-searching,” Maher said.
“I thought our communication right across the ground was poor.
“Maybe that’s got something to do with the large numbers that come from Melbourne, or here in Wang.
“Either way, we need to find that Rovers’ spirit again.”