NTFL. A narrow three-goal margin was the final difference in the Van Diemen’s Land Smithton Saints’ home loss to Ulverstone on Good Friday.
The end result came down to the wire in the final quarter, as an injury-plagued senior side desperately searched for their second win of the season and a second consecutive home win.
With several regular starters sidelined, including coach Jarrod Watling and playmaker Josh Smith, the Saints elevated a number of Reserves and U/19 players into their squad for the crucial clash.
Watling was forced to coach from the sidelines on Friday, admitting he was missing 10 senior players from the team who played against Penguin in round one.
“We’re very depleted at the moment,” Watling said. “Everything’s been chopped and changed around a bit because of injuries.
“But the boys who are stepping up are definitely contributing. There’s not only encouraging signs at the moment, but for the future.”
The home side started the stronger of the two, holding a 14-point lead at quarter time before the Robins clawed the deficit to just one point going into half time.
The Saints managed a single goal in the third while keeping their opposition scoreless, but it would prove to be their last major conversion as the Robins stepped up a gear in the fourth quarter with four goals to bring the game home.
“We can’t be winning games in three quarters,” Watling said. “We were kicking with a handy breeze in the third and didn’t capitalize on it.”
Smithton’s Tyrone Morrison stood out as his side’s only multiple goal kicker, named among the best alongside Ryan Grey, Scott Blizzard, Scott Bryan, Nathan Drake and Caleb Enniss.
In the Reserves, Ulverstone easily accounted for Smithton by 107 points, with a similar result playing out earlier in the U/19s as the home side lost by 118 points to their ladder-leading opposition.
The Saints now travel away in round five to take on last-placed East Devonport on Saturday, looking to earn their second win of the season.