NTFL. An imposing 44-point home win over Penguin has seen the Van Diemen’s Land Smithton Saints jump from fifth to third on the league standings.
Aided by Latrobe’s one-point defeat to Ulverstone, the Saints have leap-frogged the Demons to sit on 20 points alongside the Blues; a slightly higher percentage justifying their position.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the senior side however, with Penguin jumping to an 11-point lead at the first break, spurred on by a similar prospect of cementing a top-four position.
Smithton’s Connor Bramich was again prominent up forward with two goals in the first, coming off the back of 12 goals against East Devonport last round.
The Saints slowly started to get back into the game in the second quarter, kicking four goals to the Blues’ two to reduce the deficit to four points at the half-time break.
Coach Jarrod Watling’s message was clear with 60 minutes still to play: use the ball more effectively.
“Our first half was pretty scrappy,” he said. “We were doing the hard work, but we weren’t playing smart footy.
“The skill level picked up in the second . . . Right across the board, everybody played well.”
The Saints managed to regain their composure in the second half, kicking 10 goals and holding the away side to just three to seal an important win.
Bramich finished with five goals alongside Matt Elliott’s four, while Scott Bryan also booted three majors in his return to the side in another best-on-ground performance.
The Saints will face a tough test against Latrobe away from home this weekend, and while a win will keep them in the top four, a loss could see them slip back down to fifth.
Watling remained optimistic about his side’s form in the coming weeks. “We’re a better team when we’re working together,” he said.
“We’ll just try and keep as positive as we can be because at the moment, we’re travelling pretty well.”
The club earned a clean sweep of wins in round 11, with the Reserves grabbing a 10-point win and the U/19s defeating Penguin by 96 points.