YARRAWONGA has been talking the talk.
On Saturday, the Pigeons walked the walk.
The reigning premier has remained confident all year it was still capable of winning a hat-trick of flags for the first time, despite some far from inspiring form so far this season.
A 12-point win over Lavington on Saturday proved the Pigeons can do it.
The Panthers went into the clash sitting on top of the ladder but Yarrawonga came out of it reminding Ovens and Murray fans who was still the top dog.
“We’re on the record saying we’ve been trying to time our run,” Yarrawonga co-coach Drew Barnes said after the win.
“As a team, we had 21 guys out there playing some pretty impressive footy.
“We didn’t have too many below par and come this time of the year, that’s what you need.”
The Panthers looked the better team early but it was the Pigeons that led by a goal at quarter-time.
Lavington coach James Saker had a fair idea why.
The Panthers had laid 20 tackles, put in 19 one per cent acts and clearances were split 50-50.
But Yarrawonga had pumped the ball into attack on twice as many occasions.
Adam Flagg, who was looking lively, kicked the first goal of the second term to lock things back at 4.2 (26) apiece.
Then the match went to another level.
Craig Ednie and Justin Koschitzke came to blows off the ball, with Ednie sent from the ground and reported after landing one flush on the face of his former TAC Cup teammate.
Koschitzke kicked his third with the resultant free kick, booted another minutes later and should have made it three goals in five minutes but missed.
Regardless, the Panthers were 12 points clear and marching.
They looked the better side and all the crucial battles seemed to be falling their way, with James Saker completely blanketing the influence of Brendan Fevola.
But Yarrawonga kicked nine of the game’s next 11 goals.
Fevola booted five of them.
The former AFL star turned the game on its head with four goals in the space of 15 minutes.
There was a set shot, a one-arm hanger, an audacious snap over the body and a goal on the run from 50.
When big games are there to be won, there is still daylight between Fevola and any other player in the competition.
He was mesmerising as Yarrawonga surged to a 30-point lead when Kayne Pettifer kicked the first goal of the final term.
Tim Cooper and Tyler Bonat also stood out with their work through the midfield.
Cooper, in particular, was exceptional.
Despite the deficit, Lavington refused to throw in the towel and briefly threatened to cause a last-minute boilover when Koschitzke had a long bomb touched on the line.
Mitch Palmer was absolutely sensational during that burst.
He recently tossed aside his trademark helmet, but nothing else has changed.
Palmer’s attack on the ball was unmatched by his teammates.
He kicked two goals in the final quarter — one of those the goal of the day — to keep the Panthers in the game.
The pair now look certain to meet in the qualifying final.
Saker said he didn’t think his players bought into talk of being considered the team to beat, but conceded Saturday’s showing may have suggested otherwise.
“We learned a hell of a lot which will hold us in good stead in a fortnight,” he said.