A HAMPDEN league quartet starred as North Ballarat Rebels entered the TAC Cup bye full of momentum.
South Warrnambool jet Hugh McCluggage and Koroit premiership player Willem Drew returned from Vic Country duties to steer the Rebels to a 16.12 (108) to 12.9 (81) win over fellow top eight side Murray Bushrangers on Saturday.
McCluggage, touted as a potential number one draft pick after a blistering AFL under 18 national championships campaign, booted three goals to go with his team-high 34 disposals.
Drew collected 24 touches and drilled two goals, while his Koroit teammate James Gow slotted one goal to go with his 32 possessions.
Portland forward Aaron Shepherd was also impressive, slotting three goals on debut.
North Ballarat Rebels coach Gerard FitzGerald believes his side will take confidence into the remaining four games of the home and away season.
He was rapt with the Rebels’ stoppage work and ability to change angles and hit up forward targets.
“It was very, very encouraging,” he said.
“We felt over the past month we’ve been equipped to beat the best sides and I felt we had not just the potential but sufficient learning to take on the best.
“They have the belief and confidence now. A breakthrough win like that is really beneficial.
“We won the inside 50s 51-38 and early in the year we weren’t able to prevent good sides going into their forward 50.”
FitzGerald said Shepherd’s efforts at Rebels’ training culminated in his call-up.
“What I like about him is his accuracy,” he said.
“His ball use and conversion is very good.”