If early trends are anything to go on in the opening four rounds of the Warrnambool and District league season, there is little separating Russells Creek and Panmure.
Both teams possess quality at the top-end, know how to score quickly and have an ability to slow the game if required.
Saturday's thrilling blockbuster, in which the Bulldogs held off the fast-finishing Creekers to record a one-point win, 12.11 (83) to 11.16 (82), was exactly what spectators would have been hoping for.
After taking in a 25-point lead at the final change, Bulldogs coach Chris Bant knew his side would be up against it in the final 30 minutes.
"The wind favoured the racecourse end so we knew they'd come back in the last term, but we knew it'd be a tight contest" he said.
"Thankfully we hung on. It is a pleasing result, it makes a big difference going 3-1, it's a lot different than being 2-2."
It was a tale of two quarters that ultimately set up the game - the Bulldogs racing out to an unanswered four-goal first term - and the Creekers' blistering last quarter push.
Bant said it was a quality match and expected Danny Chatfield's side to be there at the pointy-end.
"We know they'll be there at the end of the year and we hope to be in a similar spot so they're big games to win," he said.
"They beat us easy last year, I know they've got a lot of talent, they're top-end is as good as anyone, so once they get rolling and on top they'll be hard to stop."
Wilbur Pomorin slotted three for the Bulldogs to continue his fine start to the season while Matt Colbert, Tyler Murnane and Jacob Moloney were all in the best.
Creekers co-coach Danny Chatfield said despite the disappointment of the close loss, there was a lot to learn moving forward.
"We had our chances, to kick 11.16 we had opportunities, but it was a game of two halves really," he said.
"We were playing catch-up, but credit to them - I said to our guys, we've got to have belief, and whoever we're playing we have to play four quarters of consistency footy.
"There was some frustration in the first half, it's just about belief for us."
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