Saints steamroll Bulls in first semi-final

St Arnaud's Nicholas Coghlan flies for a mark on Saturday. Picture: JASON SMITH

St Arnaud's Nicholas Coghlan flies for a mark on Saturday. Picture: JASON SMITH

ST ARNAUD breezed its way into the North Central Football League preliminary final after crushing Birchip-Watchem by 99 points on Saturday.

In what was a one-sided first semi-final, the Saints steamrolled the Bulls 20.20 (140) to 6.5 (41) at Donald.

“The boys played well today and we executed all our plans, so we were very happy with the result,” St Arnaud coach James McNamee said.

“It all started in the midfield and went from there.”

McNamee - runner-up in last week’s Feeny Medal - has spent the season playing in the backline.

But he pushed forward on Saturday and booted a haul of nine goals.

“We wanted to put some extra pressure on their back line, but we also wanted to have a few more onball options and with me playing up forward, it allowed Cogs (Nicholas Coghlan) to get up through the middle of the ground a bit more,” McNamee said.

As well as McNamee starring - with his performance reviving memories of the 2012 finals series when he kicked 21 goals in three games - the Saints also had midfielders Andrew Jesse, Caleb Bloomer and James Wray, Nicholas Coghlan (three goals) and defender Dan McGrath dominate.

After having the bye last week, the Saints get another opportunity to freshen up and plan with a break again next week before taking on either Wedderburn or Charlton in the preliminary final on September 13.

“We can’t complain with where we’re at,” McNamee said.

“We got through today without any injuries, so now we can train hard this week and then freshen up the week after.

“We weren’t too stressed about having to come from third or fourth because if you’re good enough, you should be able to win through.

“We’ve got that first win on the board, which is a confidence booster, and hopefully, we can make it count in a couple of weeks.”

The 99-point hiding ended a season of  improvement for Birchip-Watchem, which finished on the bottom of the ladder last year.

Ruckman Zac Holmes, Joel Cusack, Joshua Lee and coach Tom Carland were the best for the Bulls, who trailed by 23 points at quarter-time, 52 at half-time and 66 at three quarter-time, before the final margin of 99.

Daniel Castellano kicked four of their six goals to end the season with 68.

The Bulls have now lost their past six finals.

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