Saints turn it on against Muddies
THREE rounds in and the BITS Saints have premiership favourites written all over them after demolishing rivals Yaralla Mudcrabs at Boyne on Saturday by 17 goals.
The match was won in the third quarter when the Saints held their opponents goalless and added 8.6 for the term, and followed this up with another nine in the final quarter, blowing the winning margin beyond 100 points for the second week in a row.
But Muddies didn’t let the bigger and more experienced Saints have it all their own way in the first half and there was little between them on the scoreboard at the main break, the home team enjoying a two-goal lead.
At half time, Saints coach Al Watkins extolled his players to keep on track with the fast running game plan and results would flow.
“They put on really good pressure and I think in the end they were getting a bit tired and we needed to put a few things,” Watkins said.
“They’ve got a big player in the middle that gave them a lot of drive and we didn’t convert as well as we did the week before,” Watkins said.
“Full credit to them, they were well and truly in the game at half time.”
The Saints confidence returned in the second half after a few plays came off and the floodgates opened at Boyne Oval, as the pressure from Muddies waned.
One positional change at the main break had an immediate effect, when Watkins moved Saints captain Nathan Shippard up the ground, thus allowing Beirouti more space and the bulk of his 16 goals came in the second half.
The coach was pleased the scoreboard ticked over once the Saints gained the ascendancy of play in the third and fourth quarter.
“It was a pretty good effort and shows that three months of training is really paying off,” Watkins said.
Luke O’Shea was all class at centre half-back for the Saints and was voted best afield, while John Beirouti kicked 16 goals, taking his tally for 39 from three matches and on target for 100.
Watkins praised O’Shea’s game in the key back line post and feels his best is yet to come.
“Luke’s a real quality player and that was only his second game and he’ll get better and better as the year goes on,” Watkins said.
Muddies coach Jason Chirgwin believes the third quarter lapse by his players was more a mental slide than a fitness one and as the season unfolds, consistency in their performance will come.
“It was a game of two halves; it was a good first half from us and everything was firing,” Chirgwin said.
“They just ran away from us in the third quarter, which was like the week before (against Glenmore).
“It’s a young side and it’ll take a while for the young blokes to stick it out for four quarters.”
“We can match it with the best; we just have to learn how to structure it for four quarters.”
Losing key forward Reece Saddlier with a dislocated shoulder didn’t help the Muddies, who were down on senior players as it was going into the match.
Midefielder Ricky Windridge was best for the Muddies, along with Brodie Coles and
youngster Aiden Hearn who caught the coach’s eye for his tenacity and spark on the wing.
“We’ll hit the training for the next three weeks, keep trying to get fitter and a win will be round the corner,” the Muddies coach said.
In a worrying sign for the rest of the AFL Capricornia competition, classy half forward Luke Tennant and Paul Caveny were missing from the Saints side and several recruits playing their first game for the club in the reserves who showed some excellent form are in contention to come back into the side.
BITS Saints 4.3, 9.9, 17.15, 26.18.174 def Gladstone Mudcrabs 3.2, 7.8, 7.10, 9.14.68
Goals: BITS: J. Beriouti 16, A. Rakip 3, N. Shippard, 2, J. Mills, A. Dickenson, J. Poole, M. Vivian, D. Hunt. Gladstone: R. Manning 2, S. Eilola 2, C. O’Grady 2, R. Windridge 2, T. Price.
Best: BITS: Luke O’Shea, John Beriouti, Dan Hunt, Nick Stanley. Gladstone: Ricky Windridge, Joe Navatu, Brodie Coles, Shane Eilola, Trent Price, Nathan Mafrici.
BITS Saints 2.6 5.8 14.10 21.13 (139) Def Gladstone Mudcrabs 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 (6)
Goals: BITS: R. Anderson 5, S. McClure 4,S. Clarke 3, M. Goodwin 2, H. Wagstaff 2, L. Gray 2, A. McClure, B. Edwards, W. Medcalf. Gladstone: C. Cox.
Best: BITS:Nick Dempster, Brendan Edwards, Robert Anderson, Tim Faux. Gladstone: Aaron Monish, Mathew Scott, Michael Jones.