Rennie produced a massive upset on Saturday, showing its full potential in a 21-point win away from home against the Deniliquin Rovers.
In their biggest result of this campaign, the Hoppers broke away from the second-ranked Roos with a strong second quarter, with the only three goals of the term giving them the breathing room they needed.
They benefited greatly from another bout of poor kicking from the Rovers, with a 6.16 return fatally damaging their chances of winning the contest.
At the other end, Hopper superstar Chase Strawhorn had no trouble converting, with another lazy seven goals continuing a brilliant season.
He has kicked 68 goals in 10 games to be ranked second in the league’s goal-kicking race behind Waaia’s Charlie Burrows, who has 78 goals for the year.
The Hoppers’ huge result either reminds the premiership race is wide open, or reaffirms the flag is Waaia’s to lose, at this stage appearing to be leaps and bounds above its nearest challengers.
Inaccuracy was the story of Deniliquin’s day and the first quarter was its most wasteful, with 2.8 for the term allowing the visitors to lead at quarter-time.
Having kept their opponent to a single behind in the second, the Hoppers broke away to lead by 21 at the half.
The Rovers cut the margin to 11 points at the final break, but Rennie had plenty left in the tank, responding to win 11.7 (73) to 6.16 (52).
Along with Strawhorn, Ryan Forsyth, Judd Porter and Claye Runnalls were Rennie’s standouts in a win that moved it to sixth on the ladder.
All of the Hoppers, Strathmerton and Berrigan are 10-7 heading into the last round of the season, with the team that wins the race for fifth most likely to face Katunga in an elimination final.
For the Rovers, they have slipped to third on the ladder for the first time in months and will be fighting an uphill battle to avoid consecutive losses facing Waaia in round 20.