Kane Settree further enhanced his burgeoning reputation on Saturday when he starred in Dubbo FC's Western Premier League win over Orana Spurs.
Plenty was expected of the latest Dubbo derby as the Bulls and Spurs went into the match inside the competition's top three after impressing through the first five rounds.
The match lived up to the hype with both sides producing some slick attacking play but it was a double for Settree which led the defending premiers to a 2-1 win and top spot on the ladder.
The teenage midfielder has been one of the most talked about players in the Premier League so far this season, having slotted into the highly-regarded Bulls midfield seamlessly.
The only thing that had been missing from his game was goals but that changed on Saturday as his two first-half strikes sent the Bulls on their way.
"First time I've scored this season so it was good to get the two," Settree said after the win.
"I've been happy with how I've been going. I had a good game in round one but then had been a bit sloppy but I felt good today."
The Bulls' midfield was again key to its success.
Despite the injury-forced absence of club legend Scott Fox so far this season the Bulls haven't missed a trick, with the trio of Settree, Thomas Busch, and captain Kobe Rapley dictating play each and every week.
Settree and Busch's ability to drive forward from midfield and lead counter-attacks was one of the hallmarks' of Bulls play on Saturday before the side relied more on its defensive experience in the second half as Spurs threw more and more forward.
Spurs had their chances in the match, the biggest of those being just before half-time when they were awarded a penalty but Joel Tongue blazed the chance over the crossbar.
They hit the woodwork numerous times throughout the match, as did Bulls, while goalkeeper Hayden Williams also kept Spurs at bay with a number of strong saves during the entertaining derby contest.
The loss was Spurs' second on the trot after a 3-1 defeat to ladder-leading Waratahs FC the week prior.
The vastly-improved side had scored three successive wins prior to that but the most recent results have shown coach Ben Manson the standard required to be a genuine premiership contender.
"I feel like it was pretty 50-50 but they're an exceptional team with great, new players coming in," Manson said.
"We were a bit unlucky and hit the post three or four times and it's a bit upsetting but we'll get there. We want to make top four, that's our goal."
Spurs began the match at No. 1 Oval the better and had plenty of possession but struggled to test Williams in the Bulls' goal, with a shot pulled wide from captain Jared Corby on 15 minutes one of the better chances.
Wingers Alex Richardson and Gareth Williams were forced to drop deep as Bulls were under plenty of pressure but after holding firm the premiers began to work their way into the match.
Bulls began press Spurs in and out of possession and a hard-running Settree forced the Orana defence to clear the ball in the lead-up to the first goal on 27 minutes.
From the ensuing long throw-in, a shot from inside the box from Rapley was blocked by keeper Bailey Delaney but Settree was on hand to poke home the loose ball and give his side the lead.
It was the same key players involved when Bulls extended their lead just 10 minutes later, as Rapley played a lovely through ball into the box and Settree had little problem slotting it past Delaney.
Spurs had the golden chance to get back into the game right on half-time when Tongue was bundled over by Richardson in the box but after bouncing back to his feet the midfielder hit his shot well over the bar.
Most of the second half consisted of the Bulls' defence holding off the attack but Spurs did get the ball in the net at one point through substitute Angus Cusack, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
An own-goal from Bulls centre-back Tom McKeon in the 82nd minute set-up a nervy finish for Bulls and while both sides hit the crossbar in the final stages, the premiers held on to move into top spot on the ladder.
"It was about keeping our cool. We got the couple of early goals and then just really switched on," Settree said.
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