North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin praised his midfielders for their role in setting up a convincing seven-goal win against Charles Sturt University on Saturday.
In a game pitting first against fifth, and with the Bushpigs welcoming the return of key midfielders Rob Herzfeld and Louis Miller, North Wagga’s consistency continued, as they marched to a 9.15 (69) to 4.2 (26) win.
The 43-point victory was the Saints’ eighth win in a row, to lead into next week’s game against traditional rivals East Wagga-Kooringal – the only team to beat them so far this season.
“I couldn’t be any happier with how we’re rolling along,” North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin said.
“Every time we play East Wagga, no matter where each side is on the ladder, it’s a good game so I expect nothing less next week.”
The Saints were wary of CSU’s key men in the middle – Rob Herzfeld, Louis Miller, Brayden Ambler and ruckman Vas Seker – and are conscious of continuing to build momentum without lapsing in intensity from week to week.
A two-goal lead at quarter-time was doubled to four goals by three-quarter time, and almost doubled again in the last quarter.
“I thought we played really good football. They’re a good team with a really strong on-ball brigade and it was pretty even (in the middle) so it was a good win,” Hamblin said.
“I think our fitness is a pretty good level and we’ve got a lot of mature blokes in our team. Our younger blokes are starting to mature too and we’re closing out games pretty well at the moment which is a massive plus.”
Their midfielders were up to the challenge. Jake May’s purple patch continues while Corey Watt is a handful for opposition teams every week and Tom Bennetts has been a huge addition this season.
“We didn’t really know what to expect when Tom arrived but he’s taken our team by storm. He’s one of the best players we’ve got at the moment and he’s just getting better each week, for a 21-year old,” Hamblin said.
North Wagga finished with 24 scoring shots to six but 15 behinds suggests there’s room for improvement.
Daniel Jordan kicked five of their nine goals, although the Saints didn’t kick a goal in the second quarter, despite dominating play and holding the Bushpigs scoreless.
“We had a lot of ball inside our forward 50 but we didn’t really take our opportunities,” Hamblin said.
“I think we need to get used to teams playing a spare man in defence and flooding their backline. We need to get a bit smarter with the way we use the football heading into our forward line.”
Will Thorp, Diarmid Cleary and Miller were CSU’s best.
The Bushpigs still hold on to fifth spot by one win and percentage but take on third-placed Temora next week.
North Wagga remain on top of the ladder, with a considerable percentage advantage over Marrar.