Leongatha strengthened their case for flag favouritism by becoming the second team to defeat Maffra in season 2018 in the Gippsland league senior competition with an 11-point win on Saturday to kick start the first half of the split round 13, 9.8 (62) to 7.11 (53).
The Parrots signalled their intent early and held their biggest lead of the day - 16 points - at the first break.
Coach Paul Carbis went into the weekend "with no expectations" and said his side "had nothing to lose".
"The pleasing things was our start. We really started well, converted and they missed a couple which put us up early and from then on it was a pretty close contest and we were able to keep in front for the rest of the day," he said.
Leongatha's engine room was "on top early" and the likes of Luke Bowman, Hayden Brown, Ryan Olden and Josh Hopkins were making the going tough for Maffra.
"Our midfield gave us first use and set us up in really trying conditions. The wind and rain came and went but our objective was to get first use and our midfield did that for us ... they have been super the last few weeks," Carbis said.
Heading into the last quarter with a nine-point lead, Carbis said his message to the playing group was "to not throw it away".
"The message was that if we could keep repeating the things we had done then we'll get the results," he said.
"It was really scrappy in the last quarter. They kicked a goal in the first 10 minutes and it was just a battle thereafter but thankfully we kicked on at about 20 minutes.
"There were a lot of stoppages and we were counting down for the siren to go, so it was a really good win for us."
Cade Maskell bagged three goals for the second week in a row in a leading performance for the defending premiers and was helped by the efforts of Luke Bowman who kicked two goals and four others who kicked singles.
For Maffra, better contributors included Danny Butcher, Jack Johnstone and James Huts while goals went to Thomas Jolly (two), Jim Reeves (two), Andrew Petrou, Kade Renooy and Daniel Bedggood (one).
The win makes it nine-in-a-row for the Parrots with the loss to Maffra in round three the most recent blemish on their sheet with five games to go for the season proper.
"We've got better as the season gone on," Carbis said.
"I said to the boys that something is going right and we're starting to click and gel and trust what we do and if we do that we can beat anyone on our day."
Leongatha and Maffra will now enjoy a week's break for the second half of the split round.
"We'll take a week to refresh the body and mind and set ourselves for the final five games, then it's business as usual," Carbis said.
Bairnsdale v Moe
Moe was faced with the unenviable task of travelling to Bairnsdale in round 13 but did it with aplomb and led at every change on their way to win number eight for the season, 11.11 (77) to 6.15 (51).
A run of five unanswered goals gave the Lions a 29-point edge at the last break which proved enough to put the result beyond doubt.
Inaccuracy was Bairnsdale's enemy in the end. They were matched with Moe on scoring shots but were undone by six goals and 15 behinds from 22 attempts.
Sam Cougle did the bulk of the heavy lifting on the scoreboard for Moe and finished with four goals.
There was no shortage of avenues to goal for the Lions, however, and seven others chipped in with singles.
Among the better players for Moe were Tyson Biffin, Thomas Long and Joel Bragagnolo while Russel Cowan, Callan McKeon and Brayden Radford contributed well for Bairnsdale.
Brayden McCarrey led the way on the scoreboard for the Redlegs and slotted three majors.
The Lions are well placed in the run home to finals and have the luxury of two games' breathing space ahead of Traralgon in fifth.
For the Redlegs, the loss to Moe has officially dashed any hopes they had of a post-season berth with major players Maffra, Sale and Leongatha all to come in the final five rounds.
The Lions will enjoy a week's rest for the second half of the split round this weekend and face Leongatha on July 21.
Bairnsdale also have the week off and will travel to Wonthaggi in a fortnight to take on the Power in round 14 action.