North Wagga full-back Brayden Skeers says the Saints are no chance of underestimating The Rock-Yerong Creek on Saturday, despite 10 wins separating the teams on the ladder.
They’ll head to Victoria Park gunning for a 12th straight win, against a Pies team playing for pride. But on a rainy day at the same venue last year, the Saints had a six-game streak ended when they were thrashed by 10 goals. They don’t want a similar disaster two weeks out from finals.
“Absolutely, it’s the sort of game where you can’t relax,” Skeers said. “We know The Rock can be very handy at their home ground, we respect them and know what they can do on a good day.
“They can make our situation pretty volatile if they get on top early or something so it’s important we stick to our game plan and get a good start.”
The Saints are without Lachlan Steward (hamstring) and Josh Thompson (calf) but the injuries aren’t expected to affect their involvement in finals.
North Wagga are set for a top two finish, with the minor premiership to be decided in next week’s final round at Marrar. (The teams are level on 60 points with North Wagga holding a slightly better percentage and Marrar enjoying the bye this weekend).
Skeers, a Saints junior, and fellow backman, Matt Thomas, will both play their 100th first grade games for the club, adding further motivation for North Wagga.
Bringing up the ton is particularly significant at the Saints, with Troy Curtis last year and Corey Watt this year the only other current players in triple figures for first grade games with the club.
“It is big for me,” Skeers, 22, said. “I’ve stuck with North Wagga and I love the club. It’s a good family club and having my family involved gives you that much pride to play here.
“In terms of the club it’s great to see blokes staying around and starting to rack up those games. From our recess in 2007 and coming back in 2008, we’ve been building to this point where we get a bit more continuity and it’s starting to show with a lot of blokes having played a lot of footy together.”
Thomas is more experienced, having played more than 200 senior games in a career including time at Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes, Sydney’s North Shore Bombers and the last six years at McPherson Oval.
But the pair have been side by side for most of this ton.
“I’ve pretty much played my whole senior footy with Hank (Thomas), so it’s quite cool to think we’ve done the 100 games together and we’re both seeing the build from where we were,” Skeers said.
“We love Hank. We know that he’s the sort of bloke who will put his body on the line no matter what the circumstances are and if he’s given a task, you can guarantee he’ll get the job done.
“We love his ferocity and his devotion to the club.”
The pair have contributed to North Wagga having the best defensive record in the competition this season, conceding an average of 42 points a game, marginally better than Marrar’s 44.