Saints go marching to the granny
NORTH Mackay are through to the AFL Mackay Allied Pickfords Cup grand final but only after first-half frustrations against closest rivals Eastern Swans on Saturday.
The Saints remained unbeaten for the season and booked their ticket to the big dance with a 14.10-94 to 5.7-37 win in front of a vocal home crowd at Zeolla Park, but coach Craig Jenkins saw enough to know there was still improvement in his side.
"It played out well for us. I thought the Swans brought it in the first half,” Jenkins said.
"What didn't work we fixed up pretty quickly. There's a few things we had to work on . . . once we got the right match-ups sorted it worked out well.”
The Swans proved they had come to play in the first quarter, with the scores level at nine apiece at the first change.
But as the Saints have done repeatedly this season, they found another gear when it mattered.
A 17-point half-time advantage became a 57-point victory, off the back of three goals from Sam Dunbar and Michael Green.
Jenkins welcomed the reward of a week off that came with the win, adding there were some sore bodies and selection headaches to take care of ahead of grand final day.
"The win today is definitely important. (We can) get through the injuries over the next couple of weeks, get the bodies right and hit it up in the main game of the year,” he said.
"I dare say selection in a couple weeks will get harder again, with some players that were probably on the fringe performing today - they're just making our job hell.
"It's a good position to be in.”
Jenkins added he felt the Swans played the Saints' style "better than us” in patches throughout the contest.
That sentiment was echoed by Swans skipper Marek Sajewicz.
"I think we showed in the first quarter we're more than capable of running with them,” Sajewicz said.
"I thought in the first half we played pretty good footy. That dropped off after half time; the intensity dropped off a bit.
"(But) we know now what we have to bring in a couple of weeks.”
Sajewicz added the Swans still had three key forwards to come in, which he hoped would change the dynamic of the contest should the two teams meet again in two weeks time.
"I think with the ins we've got up forward . . . we'll have more targets to go through from the middle of the ground,” he said.
AFL Mackay Allied Pickfords Cup Qualifying Final
North Mackay Saints 14.10-94 def. Eastern Swans 5.7-37 at Zeolla Park