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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla Saints achieve the perfect season

Benalla achieved an unblemished home-and-away season with an 89-point victory over Seymour on Saturday.

September 3, 2014 3:17am

Benalla became the first Goulburn Valley Football League team in 21 years to finish a home-and-away season undefeated after an 89-point victory against Seymour on Saturday.

However the achievement was in part overshadowed by a horrific jaw injury to star midfielder Will Martiniello.

The Saints were leading by more than 60 points in the fourth quarter when Martiniello copped a high hit in the centre.

He broke two bones in his jaw and after spending Saturday night at Northeast Health Wangaratta was transferred to Royal Melbourne Hospital for surgery to insert plates and remove his wisdom teeth.

Benalla Saints Sports Club president Bruce Biggs said the club had requested the league to investigate the alleged incident.

‘‘We’re not saying it was anything but an accident, but head-high incidents are sacrosanct,’’ Biggs said.

‘‘I’m just concerned that our good ball players have been targets all year.

‘‘We all have a duty of care to protect our ball players and I think there’s been a failing there.’’

The incident brought tempers to the fore, with a scuffle emerging between players on-field before Will’s brother James was awarded two 50m penalties and kicked the resulting goal.

Emotions ran hot off the field also, with some spectators verbally remonstrating at Seymour players as they walked back to the rooms at the end of the match.

The injury marred the conclusion of a spectacular home-and-away season for the Saints.

‘‘You try and win every game and we’ve done that, so it’s a massive achievement for the club,’’ playing coach Luke Morgan said.

‘‘We take confidence that we can play good football and we can go one-on-one.’’

The Saints put their stamp on the game early, kicking away to a 23-point lead against Seymour in the first quarter.

The Martiniello brothers were in stellar form early, while Josh Marchbank and Will Sullivan dominated the ruck.

In front of an enormous home crowd Benalla built up a commanding lead, led by Nick Warnock and Josh Mellington who kicked seven and six goals respectively.

‘‘It was a tougher game than we’ve had in previous weeks but I think we played better,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘The team performance was good. We’ve nearly won by 100 points again and against a team that rated themselves as a chance.’’

Seymour full forward Saad Saad was kept to just one goal thanks to a strong performance in defence by Jake Pallpratt, while James Martyn made a welcome return to the home side.

For full story see this week’s Ensign.

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