GOTCHA: St Arnaud captain Ben Batters lays a tackle on Birchip-Watchem’s Connor Walsh on Saturday. Picture: JASON SMITH
ST Arnaud marched two games clear at the top of the North Central Football League ladder after defeating Birchip-Watchem by 21 points on Saturday.
In a clash of 1 v 2, the Saints led at every change in winning 13.16 (94) to 11.7 (73) at Birchip.
The win moves the Saints to 7-2 and gives them an eight-point buffer at the top.
The Saints were off target in the first half in kicking a wayward 6.13 to lead by just 21 points at the main break, despite having had 11 more scoring shots than the Bulls.
But the Saints straightened up in the second half in kicking 7.3.
The regular names of ruckman Luke Wells and midfielder Gavin Vassallo (three goals) were again the best for the Saints.
Also playing well for St Arnaud were Harley Durward, Nick Baldwin and Robert Elliott.
As well as Vassallo, coach James McNamee and Adam Tipungwuti also kicked three goals for the Saints.
Forward Daniel Castellano was lively for Birchip-Watchem, kicking six of the Bulls’ 11 goals to be one of their best players.
Also among the better players for the Bulls were Dale Hinkley, Jacob Noonan and ruckman Zac Holmes.
• Wedderburn survived a massive scare from bottom side Boort.
The winless Magpies – having gone into the game with an average losing margin of 110 points – trailed the Redbacks by less than a kick at three quarter-time.
However, the Redbacks staved off the challenge from the Magpies, kicking five goals to one in the final term to win 11.21 (87) to 8.4 (52).
Brett Strange was influential in the win for the Redbacks, kicking three of his four goals in the final quarter.
Danny Benaim also kicked four goals for the Redbacks, who constantly squandered chances in front of goal in the second and third quarters when they kicked a combined 4.13 that kept the Magpies in the contest.
The Redbacks’ best players featured Robert Tonkin, centreman Nathan Bell, onballer Nathan Holt and reliable key defender Jacob DeAraugo.
While the Magpies are still winless, Saturday’s result was the first time this season they have kept their losing margin to less than 85 points.
The Magpies produced their best quarter of the season in the third term when they outscored the Redbacks by 20 points, kicking 5.2 to 2.2.
Forward Shaun Pearce bagged four goals for Boort, becoming the first Magpie player this year to kick more than two in a game.
Aaron Wilson, Keiren Wilson, Jack Smith and Craig Rutley were the best for Boort.
The victory was Wedderburn’s 12th in a row against Boort.
• Charlton bounced back from consecutive defeats, while inflicting Donald’s third loss in a row.
The Navy Blues kicked five goals to two in the last quarter to win 12.6 (78) to 8.9 (57) at Donald.
Just three points had separated the sides going into the final quarter.
Coach Aaron Walklate was superb for the Navy Blues, playing a fine leader’s game.
Matthew Winsall, Rhys Thompson and Ben Walklate were also prominent for Charlton, which had Mark Vigus, Luke Kyriakides, Joe McGrath and James McGrath each kick two goals.
The loss cost Donald its position in the top four, with the Royals now at 4-4, having one stage been 4-1.
Coach Luke Fisher, Glenn Wyatt, Joshua Reichman and Daniel Pearce played well for the Royals.
Brody Haddow and classy forward Seamus Young kicked two goals each.
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