Saints don’t want to do things by halves

June 11, 2018

Hills Hoist: Rochester's Charlie Ward cops a clothesline from Benalla's James Martyn. Charlie Ward tackled high by James Martyn

Hair-raising: Benalla's Sam Martyn tackles Rochester's Ash Watson.

Dunne deal: Benalla's Jamie Dunne catches Rochester's Jaycob Dingwall high.

Ham sandwich: Rochester's Wil Hamilton is put in a squeeze by Benalla duo Cody Crawford (left) and Jamie Dunne. Wil Hamilton tackled by Cody Crawford & Jamie Dunne.

Benalla’s Goulburn Valley League winning streak has extended to six matches.

Luke Morgan’s Saints continue to get the job done every weekend to clearly cement themselves as the second best side in the competition.

This time it was Rochester on the end of a strong Benalla performance, but the big Moon Oval crowd was treated to a cracking contest before the dust settled.

The Tigers led at quarter-time and the main break before Benalla took the ascendency at the final change and held on for an eight-point victory.

‘‘It was a good arm wrestle,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘The lead changed numerous times throughout the game, but footy’s a funny game and if we had have missed a shot on goal late, it could have gone the other way.’’

Saints big man Nick Warnock slotted his third goal of the day with just three minutes left in the contest to extend his side’s one-point lead to something substantial enough to snare a win.

Warnock combined well once again with Jamie Dunne (four goals) and Brody Webster in attack all game, giving the Saints just enough breathing space when it mattered most.

‘‘The forward line is functioning quite well,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘I think it’s a much improved forward line from last year.’’

With such a young list at his disposal, Morgan is continually impressed with its development, but pins most of the plaudits on his experienced stars.

‘‘We had nine players 19 or under at the weekend,’’ he said.

‘‘So the growth has been really good, but the senior players are still standing up every week.

‘‘Those guys are playing good footy and it allows these young kids to develop under them.

‘‘We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves though, it was really good to get the win and be where we are at the halfway point of the season, but that’s all it is — halfway.

‘‘This part of the season last year wasn’t great for us, so we need to stay focused.’’

Michael Ryan, Tom Bennett and Sam Martyn also stood out for the Saints, who boast an 8-1 record this campaign.

Meanwhile, a second tight loss in as many weeks has left the Tigers fighting to stay in touch with the top six.

Rochester coach James Flaherty is not ready to hit the panic button just yet though and has been happy with the way his group is playing.

‘‘We felt that we put ourselves in a position to win the game in the last quarter,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘Benalla are a quality side and they just got the better of us in the end.

‘‘I’ve been pretty pleased with the way we’re going, we just need to tidy up our disposal a bit.’’

Ash Watson, James Gledhill, Doug Wren and Wil Hamilton were among Rochester’s better players, as was Steven Stroobants with three goals.

Bailey Wileman, Elliott Taylor and Jaycob Dingwall also drew the attention of their coach.

‘‘The group has had a fair bit of change from last season,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘But the young bodies in there are getting vital experience, and it’s exciting to get games into these guys.

‘‘Bailey Wileman and Wil Hamilton have come up through the under-18s and guys like Elliott Taylor and Jaycob Dingwall have earned their spot in the seniors through the reserves.’’

A sour note for the Tigers was an injury cloud hanging over Daniel Hamilton.

‘‘Unfortunately Daniel looks like he’s possibly got a knee injury,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘He’s a young local kid who’s just come back from a knee so we’re hoping for the best.’’

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