The Northern Jets might just be getting inside the heads of North Wagga. As a top three team last year, the Saints lost twice to a Jets team rungs below them on the ladder.
Right now, having waited months for their shot at revenge, North Wagga sit below the Jets after going down in an opening round thriller at Ariah Park on Saturday.
It was the familiar figure of key forward Matt Wallis who delivered, securing a 7.6 (48) to 5.16 (46) win with a clever goal to put his side in front in the final minute, and then adding a behind for good measure with a final shot.
But in a team getting used to life without Mitch Haddrill, starting the season without Sam Fisher, and playing without assistant coach Mal Douglas (family illness), it was the dawning of a new generation at the Jets.
"I was very happy because it was a gutsy win, it didn't come easy by any means. A lot of young blokes stood up and showed a bit of grit," Jets coach Josh Avis said.
Returned junior Jack Harper led the way with a strong first senior game while young midfielders Hamish Gaynor and Tom Roscarel took the game up to the Saints.
North Wagga didn't help themselves with nine first half behinds, and they trailed by a goal at half time.
The visitors steadied in the third and looked to be getting away with six scoring shots to a solitary Jets' point.
But nine points was never going to be enough on its own and while Saints added 1.3 in the last, including opening up a three goal margin just after the last break, the Jets kicked three goals, as well as two behinds for a winning buffer.
"There was hardly anything in the first half but they pulled away in the third quarter and we had to grind it out in the end," Avis said.
Grind might be a bit unfair on the manner of the winning goal with Wallis tapping it out of a ruck contest and laying boot to a mid air ball.
"It was a little bit of fancy footwork after a stoppage on the top corner of the goal square," Avis said.
Ruckman Lachie Jones was almost a withdrawal due to illness but helped kickstart the run, pulling one down out of a centre bounce and bombing it forward to get the ball rolling for the Jets, while Jack Fisher threw himself into everything.
"I'm stoked, so proud of the boys and it shows that what we're doing is working," Avis said.
"It builds that belief."
Ky Hanlon and the Keith brothers led North Wagga's efforts as football returned after a 33 week break.
Northern Jets 2.2, 4.3, 4.4, 7.6 (48)
North Wagga 2.4, 2.9, 4.13, 5.16 (46)
Goals: (Jets) Matt Wallis 2, Jack Harper, Jack Crofts, Hamish Gaynor, Tom Roscarel, Brad McKinnon; (Saints) Bailey Clark 1, Tom Nejman 1, Cayden Winter 1, Luke Mauger 1, Ben Keith 1.
Best: (Jets) Jack Harper, Bradley McKinnon, Josh Avis, Lachlan Jones, Nathan Tiyce, Tom Roscarel; (Saints) Ky Hanlon, Sean Keith, Ben Keith, Elliott Winter, Benjamin Alexander, Jackson Kerr.
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