The Maitland Saints stamped themselves as genuine premiership contenders with an emphatic 78 point victory against the previously undefeated Lake Macquarie Dockers at Max McMahon Oval on Saturday.
A four goal to nil opening quarter by the Saints shell-shocked the Dockers who despite picking up their tempo in the second and third quarters were outscored in every term by Maitland including an eight-goal straight blitz in the last to take the game 18.13 (121) to 6.7 (43).
Saints co-captain Wade Beard said the team was stoked with the result and the continued progress was amazing.
“The way we ran off each other was fantastic. We knew that if we kept on hitting the ball hard we would get up,” he said. “Our fitness level has counted at the end in the last two games.”
Beard capped off his game with three goals in the final quarter when Adrian Hoffman went into the centre and helped maintain the Saints’ midfield dominance.
The last quarter blitz was the icing on the cake with the Saints’ forwards able to convert the hard-working backline and dominant midfield’s contribution throughout the game.
The midfield’s efforts were all the more sterling as last week’s best player Cameron Mitchell went off in the first quarter with a leg injury.
The forwards were able to lock the ball in their half for long periods and when it did escape the back six repeatedly out-thought, out-muscled and out-played the Dockers’ forwards.
Saints coach Steve Mitchell said the confidence from playing together largely unchanged for the past four weeks showed in the backline’s movement of the ball in tight quarters.
Mitchell was particularly pleased with the games of backline generals Lucas Brandle and Stuart Inglis.
Co-captain Mark Curran runs all day, playing a sweeping role and turning up wherever he is needed.
He added to the experienced mix up back in the second half and after kicking a goal forward Justin Smith showed the versatility he brings to the side by switching back as well.
Scott McLarty, with his bulk and strong hands, provided problems for the Dockers’ backline and he got the ball rolling with two first quarter goals and four for the match. Jack Buttenshaw filled the role of small forward both defensively and with three clever goals.
Luke Garland continues to improve each week and was instrumental in setting the platform in the first half for the Saints’ win, with hard running, smart delivery and winning contested balls across the centre.
Corey Kennedy was again the opposition’s biggest headache in finding a match up and he kicked four goals including a brilliant running 30 metre shot from the boundary line.