THURGOONA recorded its most significant victory of the season after scoring an upset 27-point victory over Rutherglen at Thurgoona on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were fielding one of their strongest line-ups and some wayward kicking in the 14.21 (105) to 11.12 (78) win prevented an even greater winning margin.
It was a costly loss for the Cats who have now slipped eight points and significant percentage behind fifth-placed Tallangatta after its hard-fought win over Dederang-Mount Beauty.
Despite the Bulldogs having 19 scoring shots to 13 in the first-half they trailed by four-points at the main break.
But they were able to overcome their goalkicking yips in the second half to notch a convincing win.
Bulldog co-coach Kade Brown was one of the chief offenders of squandering opportunities in front of goal after finishing the match with five goals and eight behinds.
Key forward Todd Miller also overcame some ordinary conversion to finish with four goals.
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"It was probably the first time this season that we produced four solid quarters of football," Brown said.
"Inaccuracy killed us, especially in the first-half booting 6.13.
"We probably should have put them away by half-time.
"But to Rutherglen's credit it kept fighting and both sides produced some good passages of play and it was an enjoyable game to play in.
"I think Todd Miller and myself would have booted 16 points between us so fortunately we won otherwise we know who would have got the blame for the loss."
Rory Muggivan was the Bulldogs' best with his pinpoint disposal across half-forward setting up a lot of the home side's attacking moves.
Bryton Garth, Tom Rake, Robert Landman and Callum Dunstan were also solid contributors.
A season-ending shoulder injury to Corowa-Rutherglen recruit James O'Connell was the only sour note in the win.
The Bulldogs sit eighth with a 5-6 record.
They will become the first reigning premier to miss finals the following season since Tallangatta in 2015.
Brown said the Bulldogs had set themselves the goal of claiming a big scalp before seasons end.
"We spent the first six rounds learning because we had so many new faces," he said.
"It would be nice to get a big scalp before the end of the season."
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