LAVINGTON coach James Saker has put the Panthers on notice after Saturday’s 37-point victory over Corowa-Rutherglen.
Saker warned the Panthers they would become the target of opposition teams in the run home as they look to claim top spot on the ladder.
“We’ve got to be really diligent,” Saker said.
“Now that we’re 8-1, sides will be out to get us and look to get a scalp.
“All we wanted to do at the start of the year was win as many games as we can.
“The higher you finish, the better chance you get at it.
“We’re in a position now where top three is a really good chance and we’re still in the mix for potentially top.
“Good sides come to play every week and we need to do that.”
A couple of four-goal bursts steered the Panthers to a crucial, yet uninspiring, victory at Lavington Oval.
Four goals on the trot in the first half, and another four to finish the game, ultimately proved the difference as the Roos more than held their own against a competition heavyweight.
Saturday’s contest always looked like it was going to be a low-scoring affair.
The conditions were slippery and both clubs play a defensive brand of football.
“I think the defensive pressure of both sides was through the roof, which made it hard to get clean possession,” Saker said.
“But we weren’t clean enough.
“There was just a little too much mucking around, considering the weather.
“They certainly didn’t surprise us.
“They’ve been playing some pretty good footy.”
Saker and Brant Dickson combined well in defence to virtually blanket the influence of Corowa-Rutherglen focal point Luke Gestier.
Kade Stevens, who entered the clash in some doubt with calf troubles, showed little sign of the injury on his way to a 30-possession haul.
Will Lenehan and Lewis Gardiner stood tall in defence.
Lenehan, who joined the Panthers this season, looks a ripping addition and provides another cool head down back.
Despite the defeat, the Roos had plenty to take out of the game.
Kade Kuschert highlighted his importance to the club with a stellar display down back, while Jed Brain was just about the Roos’ best player on debut.
Jamie Seymour was his reliable self sweeping across half-back and Jarred Lane continued his recent run of good form.
The only sour note was the send off and report of defender Lachie McLarty.
McLarty, who pulled down mark of the day and had done a great job on Lavington forward Adam Flagg, had a brain fade after being taken high in the dying stages of the third term.
He got to his feet and dropped Lavington star Luke Garland, sparking an all-in melee at three quarter-time.
It left the Roos one player short in the all-important final term and the Panthers made the most of it, with goals from Chris Annett, Mitch Palmer, Garland and Jay Banks in the space of seven minutes taking all sting out of the contest.
“In the end, discipline really cost us,” Corowa-Rutherglen coach Bryce Campbell said.
“When you’re starting to come at a side and you’re 11 points down and go one down one in the last quarter, especially the way Lavington play, it really costs you.
“It’s something I’ve already addressed.
“I thought we should have been right in the game.”