Saints stay in finals logjam

Brock-Burrum’s John-Roy Williams makes a break for the Saints. Pictures: PETER MERKESTEYN

Brock-Burrum’s John-Roy Williams makes a break for the Saints. Pictures: PETER MERKESTEYN

DEFENDING premier Brock-Burrum remains in the hunt for a prized top-two finish after a hard-fought 17-point win against Rand-Walbundrie at Burrumbuttock on Saturday.

After some indifferent form in the past month, the Saints were almost back to their best as they overcame an eight-point half-time deficit to record an 11.17 (83) to 9.12 (66) victory.

The loss sent the Tigers tumbling from the top of the ladder to third and highlights the tight nature of the premiership race.

Brock-Burrum was buoyed by the return of co-coach Luke Schilg in his first appearance since going down with an ankle injury in round 4.

The Saints’ best and fairest winner played predominantly up forward and importantly emerged unscathed in his first game back.

Co-coach Luke Brauer said it was a crucial win for their top-two aspirations with Henty, Osborne, Rand-Walbundrie and Brock-Burrum separated only by percentage on 28 points.

“It was a huge win in the context of our season,” he said.

“We probably had our best week on the track that we have had all year and knew what was at stake.

“It was a season defining clash for us and keeps us in the hunt for a top-two spot.

“Our defensive pressure all over the ground was a lot better than in recent weeks and that was the biggest difference.

“They were certainly up for the contest in the first half, but our pressure helped turn the momentum after half-time.

“We are still playing nowhere near our best footy but it was certainly a step in the right direction.”

Azzi medallist Trent Storey dominated the hitouts while youngsters Braydan Beesley and Marshal Lacey were equally impressive in defence.

Dean Murphy was also inst-rumental opposed to Tigers matchwinner Dean Roulstone, with the Eastlake recruit kept goalless for only the second time this season.

Former coach Darryn McKimmie chipped in with four goals.

McKimmie is the Saints’ most potent forward, with livewire Kylin Morey struggling to recapture the form instrumental in Brock-Burrum snapping its premiership drought last season.

Josh Warren-Marmo kicked three goals for the Tigers and leads the goalkicking table with 38.

Henty moved to the top with a 51-point win over Lockhart while Jindera defeated Walla by 23 points as the Hoppers made goals hard to come by with some heavy flooding tactics.

Harry Dowling and Brad Thompson combined for nine goals as the Brookers smashed fierce rival Culcairn by 69 points.

Howlong consolidated sixth spot with a six-goal win over Billabong Crows.