Bunbury moved up to second on the South West Football League ladder after its 36-point win over South Bunbury on Sunday.
The packed crowd roared as both sides, sporting signature guernseys for the occasion, ran out onto Payne Park.
After winning the toss and choosing to kick to a light south-easterly wind, South Bunbury looked set to move out to an early lead.
However, following the opening bouncedown, the wind changed from a breeze to a gust, hindering the Tigers’ first few shots at goal.
Tempers flared on and off the ground as several calls from the umpires went South Bunbury’s way.
The crowd was then shocked after two players flew over the fence while going after the ball.
Bunbury’s backline could only watch as Tiger Bodhi Nordahl gave his side a clear lead with the game’s first goal.
Concerns grew for the reigning premiers, as the Bulldogs tried and failed to get the ball outside of South Bunbury’s forward 50.
Requiring a win to move up the ladder, both sides engaged in merciless play during the term.
The teams delivered bruising tackles and worked overtime to set up chances.
Matt Partridge kicked the home side’s first goal, and gave Bulldogs’ fans some relief, late in the term.
The Bulldogs’ fervour was short lived, as Tigers Adrian Troy Wasilew and Jay Wright kicked one goal each.
Dylan Heasman then placed a perfect shot into Bunbury’s forward 50, before Jesse Gribble found space and slotted his side’s second goal.
Goals to star forwards Matt Martin and Brett Peake put Bunbury in front by two points at quarter time.
Early in the second term, Peake’s second goal further extended Bunbury’s margin.
Bunbury’s impressive midfielders hit their stride and set up a slew of chances for the forwards.
Martin put the Bulldogs in a comfortable position with two goals midway through the term.
South Bunbury’s Leigh Kohlmann kept his side in the game with two consecutive goals right before the siren.
Ahead 7.6.48 to 5.4.34 at the main break, Bunbury was determined to take home the four points.
Kohlmann booted three goals in the third term to keep South Bunbury’s hopes alive.
His efforts were overshadowed, however, as Bunbury celebrated goals to Heasman, Martin, and Cameron Lamonica.
Bulldogs’ fans were vocal in their disdain for several calls made during the quarter.
Cruising to a 14-point lead at three-quarter time, Bunbury refused to let victory slip through its grasp.
Bunbury’s midfield quickly moved the ball out of the ruck, before setting up Heasman for his second of the game.
Martin slotted another impressive goal, before Kohlmann and Ty Sears booted two in a row for the visitors.
Heasman and Braiden Mcmullen (kicking two for the quarter) helped Bunbury to a 16.12.108 to 11.6.72 win in Round 16.
The Bulldogs lifted the Syd Jackson-Max McGuire Cup, while Gribble was awarded the game ball for his Best-on-Ground performance.
With the finals in sight, Bunbury stands a chance of attaining the minor premiership.
On Saturday afternoon, Augusta-Margaret River kept its finals hopes alive with a 13.11.89 to 5.9.39 victory over Busselton.
Ninth-placed Collie Eagles ran out 42-point victors (12.18.90 to 7.6.48) over wooden spooners Harvey.
Carey Park broke a four-game losing streak with a decisive 14.10.94 to 7.5.47 win over Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.
Glen Huon Reserve hosted the top-of-the-table clash between Eaton Boomers and Donnybrook.
The lead went back-and-forth between the two teams, before Donnybrook edged out the Boomers by two points (8.10.58 to 7.14.56).