HANWOOD coach Jason Bertacco was full of praise for South Wagga after their latest Pascoe Cup victory.
South Wagga have proven the big improvers this season and that was confirmed by Hanwood on Sunday despite a 5-1 scoreline in Griffith.
Hanwood notched up their seventh straight win to start the season but did concede their first goal in the process, with Luke Nichols converting a penalty early in the second half.
A goal to Hanwood right before half-time gave them a 3-0 and took the wind out of South Wagga after proving more than competitive early and blowing a couple of golden chances to take an early lead.
The Warriors did strike back early enough to get back to 3-1 and came hard at Hanwood for periods before the home team finished with another two goals.
Bertacco was rapt with the 5-1 result given Hanwood were forced to deal with their own set of challenges.
"A really good result, a real positive," Bertacco said.
"We had a fair few out again so we made a lot of changes and then we lost three to injury and probably two minutes into the second half we had no subs left on the bench. The three boys were down hurt and couldn't come back on and the three boys that came on had played the full 90 (minutes) in ressies.
"We had to call off training last Tuesday. We had 20-odd blokes with influenza or COVID. Against Young for the three grades, I think we had 30. Again this weekend, we ended up with 12 out.
"I think every club is going to have that point of the year and we've got it at the moment. Injury wise, touch wood, we've been pretty good until this weekend."
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Bertacco was full of praise for South Wagga. Not only how far they've come but particularly their attitude and style of play.
"South Wagga, they're a quality team. The scoreline probably doesn't reflect how tough the game was. They played really good footy," he said.
"Football wise, they're probably the best team we've played this year in the way they get the ball down and play. They were impressive and if they get on a bit of a run, they're going to make a few of us pretty worried.
"To get through it, we were really happy with that result."
Bertacco said he could not be happier with how his team is tracking, particularly given the disruptions they've faced over the opening seven rounds.
"We're extremely happy. You start the season and if you got told you were going to be top of the table after seven rounds, I think every single club would take that," he said.
"The boys are setting their own standard and I can see it, not just from first grade, all the way up. Third grade want to play reserve and first grade, so they're pushing boys, ressies want to play first grade so they're pushing the boys and all three teams are top of the table.
"Again, we got a great result (on Sunday) and in the change rooms we had our chat and whatever and to listen to the boys be so disappointed about letting in their first goal, it's a big positive. I don't have to rant or rave or anything like that, they're setting their own standard on what they want to do this year."
Hanwood lost James Stockwell (ankle), Dem Torino (ankle) and Jordan Bellato (shoulder) all to injury.
Meantime, Bailey Carlos continued his fine start to the season with three goals in Leeton United's 5-0 win over Henwood Park at Leeton on Sunday.
At Young, Adam Galvin made the most of his starting debut with two goals in Young's 2-0 win over Tumut. The win moved the Lions into fifth spot as South Wagga slipped to sixth.
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