Wodonga scored one of its best wins in four years with an upset 18-point triumph over bitterly disappointing premiers Lavington on Saturday.
The reigning wooden spooners rushed former Hawthorn player Harry Jones, ex-Melbourne listed big man Mitch King and Werribee forward Hudson Garoni - all club juniors - into the team late and they proved the difference in the 14.6 (90) to 10.12 (72) away win.
Coincidentally, it was their second game for the Bulldogs, with Garoni blasting seven goals, mostly against gun defender Brant Dickson, Jones racked up 30 touches, while 200cm King provided some steel for his young team-mates.
"It's very special, it's good to be able to come back, it's pretty exciting to be able to play and have a win over Lavington, it's great for the fellas," King enthused.
It was a riveting match in English-like conditions, with low cloud cover, but no rain.
Scores were level three times in the first half, before Wodonga grabbed the lead at the 13-minute mark of the second quarter. It never lost that, although the Panthers were less than two kicks away for most of the remainder, adding to the excitement.
And while the newcomers were terrific, regular players Cody Szust, captain Ollie Greenhill and defender Charlie Morrison also featured.
Szust was everywhere, the lightly built former SANFL forward kicking the game's first goal with a typical opportunistic effort, but it was his work later in the second term, mopping up in defence, which showed his versatility.
"'Szusty' has played at a higher level, he knows as a midfielder, we were leading and just needed to play a bit more defensively," sidelined coach Jordan Taylor praised.
The Bulldogs' pressure was the other standout.
They out-enthused the Panthers and it reminded stalwarts of one of their last great wins, against premiers Albury in early 2017.
While the appearance of the 'big three' is thought to be a one-off - but who call tell in COVID times - that frenetic pressure should guarantee more wins.
The Bulldogs are a finals chance, sitting just one win out of the top five on three wins from eight rounds.
Sixth-placed Lavington is ahead on percentage, but the two clubs are a world away.
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