The Benalla Saints have silenced pre-season critics after a crushing win over the Seymour Lions.
Saturday’s match, played at the Benalla Showgrounds, was dominated by the Saints from the outset, as they cruised to a 118-67 victory.
The Saints were predicted to finish lower than the Lions by all pre-season pundits’ accounts, but the round-one win has proven otherwise.
Saints playing coach Luke Morgan, who booted five goals of his own, said he was particularly pleased with his side’s clinical play.
‘‘I won’t take any shine away from the team’s performance because we played well as a unit and defensively in particular we played well,’’ Morgan said.
The Saints’ midfield controlled the clearances for the majority of the game, led by veteran James Marchbank and Sam Martyn.
‘‘We kept them scoreless in the third quarter and played sensibly in that quarter,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘In the midfield we were led by James Marchbank, where his lot were quality all day.’’
Nick Warnock provided a steady option up front, finishing four chances on the day.
‘‘Our forward line was led by Nick Warnock, as our target man, in the new-look system and the dynamic worked well,’’ Morgan said.
Liam O’Brien, 20, and Riley Johnson, 18, represented the club at senior level for the first time and played well, Morgan said.
‘‘They both acquitted themselves well and will be better for the experience. I expect to see them in the line-up more often this year.’’
This weekend the Saints will head to Deakin Reserve to play as yet winless Shepparton United.
Morgan said it was always a positive for the side to play at a quality ground like Deakin.
‘‘We’re looking forward to United and to play at Deakin Reserve as we may not get many opportunities to play there this year, so it is good to get that early opportunity,’’ he said.
In the reserves, the match started well as the home side got out to a comfortable lead early in the game.
A win was not to be as Seymour took the lead in the dying minutes and held on to win by two points.
Benalla’s under-18s were beaten all over the ground by a fit Seymour. Tom Moloney was the standout rucking well all day. The final score a 21-98 loss.