PIONEER and Rovers fired some mid-season warning shots after important wins in Round 7 of the Central Australian Football League.
The league's 75th anniversary season has produced a series of high standard matches and contrasting wins by the ladder leading Eagles and fast rising defending premier Rovers continued that trend.
A rejuvenated Pioneer under second year playing coach Willie Foster has flown to the top of the ladder in search of an elusive senior flag that has eluded them since 2010.
Four grand final losses in the years since - 2013, '14, '16 and '20 - has added to their hunger and built a ferocious appetite.
Jackson Cole relished his move from the backline to the midfield with a best on ground performance in Pioneer's 48-point win over a persistent West Alice Springs in Saturday's clash at Albrecht Oval.
Coach Willie Foster gave Cole a match task through the centre, away from his normal running defensive role.
"I told Jackson to stick to the team and game rules we wanted and it showed in the end, the same with (on-baller) Kane Sevallos who was tagged all day but still got a lot of the ball,'' Foster said.
"Plus Shane Lovegrove and Benny Campbell stood tall for us down in the backline to give us a good win in the end."
"Everyone stuck to our gameplan and the defensive pressure we applied to our opponents was good enough to get the points, proving once again that if you apply both of those factors and everyone buys in, you get results.''
Rovers had to work hard to beat an undermanned Federal in the early game at Albrecht Oval, eventually winning by nine points, 10.11 (71) to 9.8 (62), in a game Double Blues coach Danny Measures called a "tough afternoon's work''.
"I thought the Federal team, without a couple of key players, worked very hard, with Daniel Gorry and Brayden Weily contributing for all four quarters,'' Measures said.
"Gorry in the ruck is fairly hard to combat with his height and skill, but I thought our talls in Andrew Weekes and Cornelius Powers equipped themselves quite well throughout the match.
"They gave our midfielders in (Gareth) Remfrey, (Luke) Farrows) and Brody Wing first use of the football at important times.''
Measures said his side's inaccuracy in front goals had played its part in keeping Federal in the game.
"When you get games like that, opposition teams are always dangerous and likely to run over the top of you, so we were fortunate in some ways to get away with a win,'' he added.
In the senior women's competition Rovers snapped Alkamilya's five-game unbeaten run at the top of the ladder with an 11-point win in Friday night's clash at Albrecht.
The Double Blues' accuracy in front of goals proved crucial when they booted seven goals from eight shots, while the ladder leaders were left to rue a disappointing return of four goals from 12 shots at the big sticks.
Krydence Schwalger and Bylee Kerrin got plenty of the ball for Rovers in their 7.1 (43) to 4.8 (32) win, while Doreen Hansen and Carlee Warburton played their part by kicking two goals for the blue jumpers.
West Alice Springs dominated Pioneer in the early game, kicking 12.7 (79) to 1.1 (7) in their best game of the season to date.
The men's community competition continued with Round 6 matches at Albrecht and Jim McConville ovals in Alice Springs.
Ltyentye Apurte rebounded from a last round loss to ladder leaders Papunya by beating Liam Jurrah's Yuendumu by 48 points at Albrecht Oval.
Farron Hayes through the middle and up forward and Hermannsburg recruit Billy Pareroultja were big factors in Ltyentye Apurte's 15.11 (101) to 8.5 (53) win.
Coach Graham "Scrubby'' Hayes said his players' ability to play possession football was a key to the win.
"We went back to basics and moved the ball quickly in the first and second quarters when we kicked five and six goals to lead by nine goals at half-time,'' Hayes added.
In other results, Western Aranda steamrolled Areyonga by 109 points and Mt Allan beat Plenty Highway by four goals in their doubleheader at Jim McConville Oval.