HE'S built a reputation as a fearsome defender but Burnie's Nick McKenna turned into a match-winner at the other end of the ground at West Park yesterday.
McKenna found himself starting the game in the unfamiliar role of key forward and after kicking his team's first two goals in the opening quarter sent the Dockers on their way to a 76-point win over Devonport in the North-West derby.
Although McKenna ended with only one more goal for the game, it was his influence across the Burnie forward line that was the major difference between the two teams.
The 26-year-old led and marked strongly and probably should have finished with a handful of goals if not for inaccurate kicking.
It was a master stroke by co-coaches Andrew Hering and Luke Shackleton to put their best defender into attack and create confusion among the Devonport back men.
Burnie's big win was its second at West Park this season and compensated for its first-round loss to Devonport on Good Friday.
After a disappointing start to the season, the Dockers have regained their mojo and are pressing to consolidate a place in the top five.
Darren Banham was another regular backline player who made forays forward yesterday and he showed his goal sense by top scoring for the Dockers with four goals.
The brilliant form of McKenna, Banham and former Essendon ruckman Jason Laycock will be starting to send some tremors through opposition clubs.
A fourth consecutive grand final appearance is not beyond the Dockers if they keep improving.
Devonport now finds itself anchored in eighth place on the ladder after three consecutive losses to top teams Clarence, Western Storm and Burnie.
The Magpies were competitive for the first half but following a similar story from recent weeks fell away after the long break, managing just 3.3.
Youngsters Luc Keep, Kade Pitchford and Tyler Gavralas stood out in a tough afternoon for the Magpies, while Aaron McNab was the most productive forward, kicking three goals.