North Wagga's back six has been its strength this season. Just look at the stats: on average, the club is keeping opposition teams to just 46 points a game. That's a good 10 points better than any other team.
They face their biggest test on Saturday. Picking themselves up after their second loss of the season, Saints face a potent East Wagga-Kooringal. The Hawks are averaging more than 94 points a game (compared to North Wagga's 67) and boast the league's leading goalkicker Chris Ladhams.
The ex-AFL player has kicked 49 goals this season. The Saints' top five goalkickers, all together, have kicked the same.
But numbers won't always tell you the whole story. Take player milestones, for example, where particular recognition is often reserved for those hitting 200 or 300 games at a club.
Against the Hawks on Saturday, Sam Longmore will celebrate 100 first grade games for the Saints, and they deserve to make a big deal of it.
He'll be just the fifth player to reach triple figures since the club's return from recess in 2008.
It's a crew that includes fellow defenders Matt Thomas (112 games) and Brayden Skeers (114), forward Corey Watt (119) and backman-turned-spearhead Troy Curtis (137).
The sixth is set to be Ben Alexander, another backman, who's only four games away from the ton. And suddenly, that solid defence is starting to make even more sense.
"It is a tight-knit little unit. We've played a fair bit of footy together and we know each other's games," Longmore said.
"It does give you confidence, knowing the bloke next to you will get the job done and we know how to help each other out."
Longmore started his senior career at Narrandera in 2011 and 2012 before joining the Saints.
"It was a young club but it's really grown into a great family club and community," he said.
The 25-year-old has made a home for himself at McPherson Oval and is enjoying his footy under coach Kirk Hamblin.
"Kirky's got the team going well. We lost last week to Marrar, but I think that was just a hiccup," he said.
"Their pressure was better than ours and their aggression right from the backline up... and they took their chances."
The Saints only kicked one goal for the game (1.6), to Marrar's 7.4, but had their share of time on top, particularly in the first half, without making it pay.
Longmore said it showed the Bombers will be in the mix again come September. But he also rates Temora highly, as well as a Hawks outfit boasting Ladhams, league medallist Nick Hull, midfield star Chris Gordon and returning captain Ben Absolum.
"With players like that you always know it's going to be a tough day out," Longmore said.
"And whenever we play them, it's always got that finals feeling, especially with the cross-town rivalry."
Alexander is full of praise for one of the unsung stars of their backline.
"'Silky' Longmore? Unreal. He's solid as a rock down back and very silky with his skills. He always hits a target coming out of the backline," Alexander said.
"He killed it in last year's finals series and been doing it this year too, I think."
Alexander, 27, might have brought up his triple figures last year, if it wasn't for a season at Coolamon in 2017 under now East Wagga-Kooringal coach Matt Hard.
"He's a very good coach, he knows what he's doing," Alexander said.
"He'll no doubt have a plan. He puts focus not on just one player but every single player across the 21 of the team that he's playing. He does pick them apart, he's pretty methodical in the way he coaches."
The Hawks escaped with an after-the-siren win at North Wagga earlier this season. That was the Saints' only other loss, and poor kicking (6.12) didn't help that day either. It was their lowest score this season, prior to last week.
The Saints know reaping more for their efforts will reward their on-field pressure. But they were also disappointed in lapses in pressure during their two losses. And Alexander acknowledges that getting results up the ground starts at the back.
"A lot of our drive comes off our backline, and it's not just the half-back line either - Skeersy and Hank (Thomas) attack right from the very back. We do try to set it up right from the back to go forward. We're accountable down back but when it's time to go, we'll take the game on," he said.
Likewise, the job of limiting a dangerous EWK outfit has to start far from North Wagga's backline.
"With Hully and Ladhams up forward (they are potent) and Chris Jackson didn't play last time so if he comes in he'll cause a few more headaches, but we back ourselves. We've got a pretty good system and if the mids put the pressure on up the ground, it makes things a bit easier," Alexander said.
Having said all that, last time they met, North Wagga kept the Hawks to 51 points. But kicked only 48.
Numbers don't tell every story. But that was a three point loss, four points missed, and - right now - the difference between first or second, and going to Gumly with the mental advantage of closing out a win in a local derby.