After defeating powerhouse side Leongatha by 36 points on Saturday, Sale has secured its position as flag favourites in the Gippsland League.
Captain/coach Matt Ferguson confirmed the win “wasn’t easy”, and said the team had been looking forward to the game all season.
“We were down at quarter time, and it was pretty even all the way into the last quarter,” Ferguson said.
“We’ve been able to keep teams to some pretty low scores this season and Leongatha are a heavy scoring side, so we knew if we could keep their score low at quarter and half-time, we could bring the game back to our own terms which we did.”
Ferguson said the win gave the team “plenty of confidence”, which was bolstered by keeping key Parrots forwards Jake Best and Dwayne Holt goalless.
“Jake Best was a worry going into the game – at interleague training, when I saw him the first thing I thought was ‘who am I going to play on that guy?’,” he said.
“Joel Wallace ended up with the job, but it was really the midfield and forwards too that put on enough pressure when the ball was going their way.
“It was definitely a whole team effort.”
At the half-way mark of the season, Sale sits on top of the ladder with eight wins and one loss, which came at the hands of Morwell in round six.
“Morwell are a really good side, they’ve been improving all season,” he said.
“We had a break the week after, so we had a good look at how we played and what we needed to improve on.
“I think as long as you learn from (the loss), you’re on the right track.”
Sale’s defence has been a talking point for Gippsland League coaches and representatives, and Ferguson confirmed his belief in the backline.
“The backline has been amazing,” he said.
“We’ve been able to let them settle, and now they’ve got really good relationships between each other and they’re training and working so well together.”
This week Sale plays Bairnsdale at home, and Ferguson said he was confident the Magpies would walk away with the points.
“Teams have struggled to kick winning scores at our home ground, so we’re pretty confident going in,” he said.
“Having said that, Bairnsdale have been a bit unpredictable, and the way this competition is, if you don’t come to play you can get beaten by anyone.”
Ferguson said he was enjoying his first year as coach, and was inspired by “young guns” Josh Dunkley and Bodhi Walker, who are 15 and 16 years old respectively.
“They’re just awesome; they’re two of the most talented kids I’ve ever seen and they just bring some spark to the older guys,” he said.
He also confirmed the side was “hungry” for the flag this year. “Sale hasn’t won a premiership for a while, so the boys are really doing everything in their power to bring one home,” Ferguson said.