North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin had high praise for full-back Brayden Skeers after their 22-point win against The Rock-Yerong Creek at McPherson Oval on Saturday.
The home side made sure the Magpies had a mountain to climb in their bid for a breakthrough win, holding the visitors scoreless in the first quarter to set up an 8.7 (55) to 5.4 (34) victory.
The Pies were still goalless at half-time and down by 26 points. They lifted in the third term, after North Wagga lost Ben Alexander to a yellow card, and outscored the Saints in the second half.
But the damage was too great to undo, sending TRYC to the bottom of the ladder after a horror start of five straight losses.
"It probably wasn't our greatest win but The Rock were really competitive. They've improved a lot from last year. They've been pushing sides all year so just to get a win over them, I was happy with that," Hamblin said.
"In the last quarter they made a bit of a charge and I was happy with our blokes to hold on. We probably could've put the game to bed in the first quarter but didn't really make the most of our opportunities early (kicking 3.5 in the first quarter). The Rock came back and pushed us right to the last minute."
Makeshift forward Troy Curtis (five goals) kicked more than half the Saints' tally in the absence of the injured Dayne Hancock but Skeers' effort at the other end of the ground was a highlight, just weeks after he played strongly on East Wagga-Kooringal star Chris Ladhams.
"He's in great form. Anyone who can keep Andy Carey to one goal's going really well. Skeersy's been really creating a lot of drive from full-back and just does the job every week without saying a word," Hamblin said.
"Internally at North Wagga, he's really highly regarded. Across the league, maybe not so much which blows our mind because every week he seems to keep his opponent to not many goals and the sooner the league realises that, probably the better."
Tom Bennetts in the midfield and teenager Kane Flack on debut were others to shine in Saints' fourth win in five games.
For the Pies, Jim Carroll had another big game winning plenty of ball through the middle, while Casey Hillary, Jade Curtis and Todd Hannam were also good.
North Wagga are at home to Coleambally after next week's representative weekend while The Rock-Yerong Creek have to travel to Barellan in search of their first win.