After their third win in a row the Maitland Saints know the words of their team song and they sang it loud and clear in the centre of Seaman Oval on Saturday after beating the much more fancied Warners Bay by 25 points.
To paraphrase the team song the Saints did go marching in and will go marching on if they continue Saturday’s second-half display of teamwork in which they dominated clearances, hardball gets and ran to give teammates multiple options.
The lead changed several times in the first three quarters, with the scores locked at 5-7-37 at three-quarter time after the Bulldogs led by two points at the main break and looked like they may have too much experience.
Turnovers cost the Saints earlier, but in the final quarter they were full of running and finding their mark with hand and foot to kick 4-2 and keep the Bulldogs to a single behind.
Saints coach Steve Mitchell was thrilled with the win and said the spontaneous end-of-game celebrations showed just how excited his players were about beating one of the league’s benchmark sides at their own ground.
“We’ll leave singing the team song to in the sheds from now on, but they were just so wrapped with the win and rightly so because the second half was tremendous,” he said.
Mitchell said the team really gelled and put the things they had learned on the training track onto the field in the final two quarters.
Midfielder Wade Beard, whose dominance in the first half kept the Saints level pegging, said the players were ecstatic with their performances to date.
“We know we can’t get ahead of ourselves, but at the start of the season we were thinking of scoring a goal, winning a centre clearance as our season goals,” Beard said half-jokingly.
The win was all the more emphatic with several regular players unable to line-up.
In an even performance particularly in the second half, Mitchell rated Cameron Mitchell, Corey Kennedy, Beard, Lucas Brandle, Mark Curran and Luke Garland as his best for the day and also gave a special mention for the efforts of Lindsay Curran and first-gamers Colin Carrol, Travis Magyor.
Kennedy is a ball magnet with great hands and scored three goals, while Cameron Mitchell was solid as a rock.
Adrian Hoffman (three goals), Danny Mitchell (two goals) and Justin Smith (one goal) provide good targets up front and a last-quarter effort straight into a stiff breeze by Hoffman killed off any fight by the Bulldogs.
The Saints enter their first match of the round next week when they host competition leaders Lake Macquarie at Max McMahon Oval from noon.
Maitland 9.9 63 def Warners Bay 5.8 38
Maitland: Goal Kickers: C. Kennedy 3, A. Hoffman 3, D. Mitchell 2, J. Smith
Best Players: C. Mitchell, C. Kennedy, L. Brandle, W. Beard, M. Curran, L. Garland.
Game at Seaman Oval, Warners Bay.