Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla Saints still undefeated on top of GVFL ladder

Benalla recorded its 13th consecutive victory with a nine-point win against reigning premier Kyabram on Saturday.

July 30, 2014 3:14am

Only five more wins are needed to complete a perfect home-and-away season for Benalla after the side notched up a nine-point win against reigning premier Kyabram on Saturday.

The Saints are undefeated after 13 rounds of the Goulburn Valley Football League season and confirmed themselves as premiership favourites with their second victory over the Bombers this year.

At Kyabram Recreation Reserve the Saints got the early lead but never managed to break the game open, allowing Kyabram to come back several times throughout the match.

Leading by 16 points at half-time the Saints managed to stretch their lead to 21 points during the third term, but the Bombers slashed their lead back to just nine points at the final break.

The last quarter turned into an arm-wrestle with neither side able to score a major until the 23-minute mark when Nick Warnock kicked true.

Coach Luke Morgan said the game was one of his side’s best defensive efforts for the year.

‘‘It was probably our toughest contest for the whole year, Kyabram played some really good footy and they’re a good footy side,’’ he said.

‘‘We had to play well and we hung on in the the end.

‘‘I thought we got our fair share of the ball going forward and we dominated the inside 50s in the first quarter and probably should have been a bit further in front at quarter-time.’’

As the key ruckman Josh Marchbank was comfortable in the centre and won the battle in the ruck.

The side was bolstered by the return of Will Martiniello, and he and his brother James were integral through the centre.

The duo was ably supported by Ryan Colbert and Morgan, who had strong performances in the midfield.

‘‘Will’s a phenomenal player and to have him back in the side against another good side is obviously very important — and he acquitted himself like we knew he would and played very well,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘Some of our younger guys, Tom O’Brien, Jayden Guppy, and Charlie Morrison coming into the side for his first game, really contributed and they played their best games of footy they’ve had this year.

‘‘All in all it was a pretty good team effort, and defensive efforts were fantastic.’’

Lachie Smith was key to the Saints’ defensive strength, continuing his good form across half-back.

With only five games to go Benalla is shifting its focus to September, and Morgan said the team would not be responding to rising pressure from the broader community.

‘‘We’re going to play some sides that are not going to play finals football, I think it’s fair to say, and we still have to get out of those games how we’re going to play in September,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘We’re thinking we need to shape our game so that we get better for the test that’s going to come later in year.

‘‘I’m not in the belief that you need to lose a game before finals, hopefully our blokes will be sharpening up and sharpening up their minds every game they run out.

‘‘I don’t feel like there was a point we need to really work hard on, we just need to get better in all aspects of the game.’’

The Saints will host Shepparton United at Benalla Showgrounds on Saturday.

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