Saints’ sights set on scalp

Cowwarr is hunting a scalp and Heyfield is in its sights.

The Saints haven’t tasted victory against their traditional North Gippsland Football Netball League rival since 2012 and, after coming close back in round four, coach Brett McMaster said his young side had plenty of incentive.

“Our whole year has been about development and our last five games have been a continuation of that,” McMaster said.

“We have a good little block of games at the end of the year where we play three very good teams that are going to play finals and can test ourselves against the top sides.

“I thought we did well against (Heyfield) last time and they’ve obviously improved recently and will be better than they were the first time we played them, but hopefully we will be too.”

With 43 goals to his name, Brad McBride has been a reliable forward target throughout the season, while the likes of Patrick Tainsh and Vincent O’Mara have been consistent performers for the Saints.

However, it has been the progress of young players such as developing defenders Ben Coffey and Ben Bould that has been most encouraging.

The Saints lie four wins outside the top five with five games to play and while finals are all but a distant dream at this point, there is still plenty to play for in the next month.

“It was important our club earned back some respect this year,” McMaster said.

“There were a few games last year where we got blown out, in second halves in particular, but we’ve been improving that and showing some real pride in the end result.

“If we can maintain some consistencies we’ve shown recently we can take some momentum into next year and justify what we’ve been trying to do this year.”

The Kangaroos have temporarily been shunted outside the top five, courtesy of Rosedale’s defeat of Traralgon-Tyers United in the first week of the split round, but can regain their position with a win on Saturday.

Heyfield coach Josh Stubbe said he and his players were refreshed and ready for a tough contest.

“Cowwarr-Heyfield is always a hard-fought out battle and I’m expecting it to be very physical and for them to come out firing,” Stubbe said.

“My message will be to stand tall and fire back when you have the opportunity (by) laying tackles and using the ball well.

“They’re not far off, Cowwarr, they have pushed some of the top sides and they have a couple of key forward and key midfielders to keep an eye on.”

Midfielder Daniel Stevens underwent scans following the narrow defeat to Sale City two weeks ago and Stubbe remains hopeful his number one tagger will be available for Cowwarr.

Another player pushing his case for selection is Shane Birss, who has been sidelined since round five.

The split round 14 concludes with Gormandale hosting Yarram in a must-win game for the visiting Demons if they are to continue their push for finals football.