There’s a funny thing about pressure in football.
If you don’t bring your own, it soon finds you. And not in a good way.
In a tight Farrer League competition, that’s the lesson plenty of teams are discovering this season.
North Wagga failed to bring it when they travelled to The Rock last week, and spent four quarters under it.
“We didn’t show up ready to play, our mindset wasn’t in the right space and all these things just snowballed from that,” Saints coach Kirk Hamblin said.
“We weren’t switching like we wanted to, we didn’t spread from the midfield, we lost the clearances convincingly… all these things stem from not being switched on.
“But we’ve moved on pretty quick. It’s all going to be about this week, not too much about last week.”
Hamblin admitted they were virtually ‘bullied’ out of the game by the Pies, who were harder at the contest and beat them to the ball all day on the way to a staggering 60-point win in the wet.
That means North Wagga are still under pressure – to rediscover it in time for Saturday’s top-three clash against Temora.
The Kangaroos are the only other team to beat them this season, and have lost just once since that round four victory.
They’re chasing a fifth straight win and, with a big margin, could potentially knock the Saints out of second spot.
“For four weeks our pressure acts have been an issue,” Hamblin said.
“It’s what our whole game plan is based on, trying to out-pressure the opposition. Against Temora, they out-pressured us, they beat us at our own game.
“So the main focus this week is definitely getting our pressure up.”
It’s what our whole game plan is based on, trying to out-pressure the opposition.Kirk Hamblin
The Kangaroos also boast the league’s leading goalkicker, in Matt Harpley.
He’ll be the focus of a North Wagga defence still missing full-back Brayden Skeers with a knee injury.
But Hamblin knows the hard work on Harpley starts up the ground against a classy midfield.
“I rate it as one of the strongest,” Hamblin said.
“Their ruckman, (Anthony) Atkin, is a great ruckman.
“He gives his on-ballers first use. So I feel if we can stop their on-ballers and make it hard for them, Harpley’s not going to get clean, quality disposal that makes him kick bags of goals.”