On a day when Benalla sported Tatong’s traditional black and white jumpers, the Saints drew inspiration from the former club to end their two-game losing streak with a gruelling and spirited 21-point win against Shepparton on Saturday.
The Saints now sit in fifth position on the Goulburn Valley League ladder, one game clear of Shepparton in sixth, as they gain much-needed breathing space from the Bears and Mansfield.
With the outcome of the result looming large above both sides in the week leading up to the clash, the opening quarter was full of attacking football, as the desperate sides battled it out for supremacy.
There were no blemishes to the scoreboard at quarter-time — with both sides tied on 4.0 — and the see-sawing contest continued into the second term, as the Saints soon gained the upper hand to lead at the main break by eight points.
The Saints didn’t look back once they grabbed the lead, holding off a four-goal final-quarter effort from the Bears to run out 13.9 (87) to 10.6 (66) winners.
A five-goal haul from Saints utility Brodie Webster capped a stellar day for the home side, with Lachlan Thompson, Cody Crawford and Will Martiniello the top-performers for the Saints.
Benalla’s coach James Martiniello highlighted the fact the game was a cracking contest, as he praised the all-round performance of his side.
‘‘It was a great game of footy, both sides were really attacking, hard contest and it wasn’t until the very end of the game when we got over the line,’’ Martiniello said.
‘‘We had winners all across the ground, I thought our midfielders played an important role and our defence held up.
‘‘(Brodie) Webster presented well all day in attack and our delivery improved this weekend, which allowed for him to get his hands on the ball.
‘‘Lachy (Thompson) runs and carries the ball extremely well, and first and foremost he defended well, but also his intercept marking allowed him to push forward and attack.’’
Unfortunately for the Saints, Martiniello injured his hamstring and will miss the next three to four weeks of action, with the bye round coming at the right time for the playing coach.
With a string of two straight losses now behind the Saints, Martiniello said his side was happy to enter the bye on a winning note as it enjoyed the week off.
‘‘We’re pretty happy to be 4-2 after six rounds,’’ he said.
‘‘This week our main focus was all about positivity and now we will use the bye to freshen up and attack the next block of games.’’
When the GVL returns after the interleague bye, Benalla will travel to face Rochester.
Final score: Benalla 13.9 (87) def Shepparton 10.6 (66)
Goal-kickers: B. Webster 5, P. Warner 2, J. Wolff 2, N. Warnock 2, R. Moran, C. Crawford
Best players: L. Thompson, B. Webster, C. Crawford, W. Martiniello, C. Welsh, T. O’Brien