Dubbo coach Shayne Wilesmith insists the Demons have the "potential to win anything" this season and on Saturday they showed that could well be the case in 2019.
The Demons took a massive step towards securing an AFL Central West finals place when thumping the Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws by 54 points at South Dubbo Oval.
The match was a massively important one for both sides but the win for the Demons keeps them level with third-placed Bathurst Giants and now two wins clear of the fifth-placed Outlaws with just two rounds remaining.
The result was set up by a blistering first quarter, where the hosts booted six majors while restricting the Outlaws to a solitary behind, while defensive intensity also made a huge difference.
The fast start was particularly pleasing for Wilesmith after some wayward early kicking against Cowra the week before, and while his side faded late on Saturday they still scored a convincing 15.15.105 to 7.9.51 victory.
"We played quite well. But in saying that, we did only play three of the four quarters again," the coach said.
The Demons were again without Ben Madigan, Bevan Charlton-White, and Ben Bunt but it seemed to matter little early on.
After labelling some of the decisions his side made a week earlier as "dumb" Wilesmith was treated to a much more structured showing in attack against the Outlaws, while the defence continues to operate at an elite standard.
Going into the second quarter trailing by 38, the Outlaws got back into the game with a quick start to that term but the Demons soon wrestled back control.
The third quarter mirrored the first, with the Outlaws kept to just one point while the Demons kicked six more majors to stretch the lead to 70 points.
"They came out all guns blazing (in the second quarter) but we steadied and were able to weather the storm," Wilesmith said, before looking at the major positives.
"The back six defended really well. They tackled really hard, it was right up there.
"The pressure was on the ball-carrier and every time someone with the ball looked up they were being tackled. That comes down to work-rate.
"There was some inaccuracy but we still kicked 15 goals and when you do that it puts you in a good spot."
The in-form Tom Budd was the main benefactor of the improvements in structure as he kicked six goals, while Cameron Hellinga booted four.
There's still plenty of room for improvement.Dubbo coach Shayne Wilesmith
The coach hailed the win as a real team effort but he did single out Tom Skinner and "freak" Cameron MacDonald for praise.
Aside from some inaccuracy, the only other downside for Wilesmith was a disappointing last quarter.
That allowed the Outlaws to eat into the lead, where a much bigger Demons win could have seen them leap above the Giants on the ladder on percentages.
"We were up by about 80 points and it finished at 50, but at that (late) stage we were well in control," Wilesmith said.
"We took our foot off the gas when we could have taken third spot if we'd scored a 100-point win.
"There's still plenty of room for improvement."
The Demons face a trickier final two rounds than the Giants, as they travel to take on first-placed Orange and Parkes, but Wilesmith insists his side "just needs to keep winning" to be any chance of stealing third and hosting the minor semi-final.
- DUBBO DEMONS 15.15.105 (Tom Budd 6, Cameron Hellinga 4, EJ Fernando 2, Jayden Wallace, Mitchell McKechnie, Lachy Ewart goals) def BATHURST BUSHRANGERS OUTLAWS 7.9.51 (Scott Jablonskis 3, Ben Horn 2, Alex Sparks 2 goals)
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