Saints relentless

Smithton’s Jason Gofton outreaches his opponent to take a mark during his side’s 144-point win over East Devonport on Saturday. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

NTFL. The Van Diemen’s Land Smithton Saints ensured East Devonport would remain winless in the first half of the season, earning a 144-point win at home.

Smithton’s fourth win of the season has them back on level points with Latrobe, with Penguin just four points ahead following their narrow four-point loss to Ulverstone.

With the Swans holding the lead for three quarters back in round five, the Saints were keen to ensure history did not to repeat itself, breaking away early and leading at every change.

Coach Jarrod Watling said his team was looking to learn from their slow start in round five and make a statement early.

“We made a note of it before the game, that we wanted to make a good start,” he said. “We were always attacking . . . it was good to be able to pull it off.”

Six goals in the opening quarter to Smithton’s Connor Bramich helped the home side to a 36-point lead, while Watling led by example, finding plenty of the ball in the early stages.

Despite just six goals in the two quarters that followed, the Saints never looked like giving up their lead, rallying with an 11-goal final quarter to end the match on a high.

The Saints managed to restrict East Devonport to a total of 4.8 for the match, booting 26 goals of their own alongside 20 points to highlight the massive amount of shots on goal in the forward 50.

Bramich finished with an impressive 12 goals in just his second senior game this season, while Watling also grabbed five and Tyson Armstrong booted three.

Guy “China” Kearnes celebrated his 150th game in style, named among the best on ground with Watling describing his work rate as “second to none”.

With the Saints currently sitting fifth on percentage at the halfway mark of the season, Watling said the next two games in particular were crucial to his side’s finals chances.

“If we win [this week], we could possibly jump up to third,” he said. “If we lose, we’re a chance on not making the top four.

“We’re not wanting to leave anything to chance, and not be relying on other results to go our way.”

In the Reserves, Smithton demolished a scoreless East Devonport by 223 points, while the Saints’ U/19s also took home a comfortable 155-point win.

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