Sport

Saints’ aura building

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla stood up to the task and gritted its teeth when the moment called for a second straight week, avoiding what would have been a disastrous upset against Shepparton Swans.

The Swans responded to their critics from round one’s uncompetitive loss to Shepparton United, but were left wondering what could have been as the Saints held on for an 11.12 (78) to 9.10 (64) win at Princess Park.

Jamie Dunne booted three goals and Nick Warnock two, but it was David Mennen and Chris Welsh that played a strong hand in Saturday’s Goulburn Valley League win.

Benalla’s coach James Martiniello applauded the way his side was able to stand up in the final quarter and hold off the Swans’ high-octane pressure.

‘‘They were at us all day with their pressure and it actually got us to play a brand that isn’t the one that we like to play,’’ Martiniello said.

‘‘We were under siege all day from the Swans’ relentless pressure, their effort was first-class and full credit goes to them.

‘‘But I was really proud with how the boys stepped up and the way they took it upon themselves to put their head over the ball and win the footy.

‘‘It’s looking like it will be a pretty even competition this year, which makes these early season wins important.’’

Martiniello praised the performance of Jordan Wolff, Nicholas Wood and Brody Webster, with the latter pulling in multiple big grabs in defence.

Benalla enters its Good Friday clash against Seymour undefeated and with two important wins.

Meanwhile, the Saints’ reserves earlier enjoyed a close battle against the Swans, holding on by nine points for an 11.4.70 to 9.7.61 victory.