Good signs

By Meg Saultry

Benalla Saints have circled games against Mansfield and Rochester in rounds 15 and 18 respectively as potential scalps in the final five games of the season.

The Eagles and Tigers both sit above the ninth-placed Saints in seventh and eighth, but Benalla coach Grace Warnock said after losing to both teams earlier in the season, the Saints would love to come away with wins in these two matches.

‘‘We want to finish the season strongly,’’ Warnock said.

‘‘It would leave us on a positive, considering where we were at the start of the season. We were riddled with injuries.’’

And in games against top-six sides Seymour, Echuca, and Shepparton, the goal will be to decrease the margin from their previous encounters earlier in the season.

On Saturday, the Saints came up against top-three side Shepparton Swans, and in a valiant effort lost by only 12 goals.

It was a vast improvement since the last time the two teams met, when the Saints were defeated by 25 goals.

Warnock said she was happy with how her team fought.

‘‘It didn’t seem like 12 goals, but a couple of lapses cost us the lead,’’ she said.

‘‘We went really well, considering the Swans are going in third.’’

Among the Saints’ best were trio Bridget Hill, Kelsey Pallpratt and Chloe Hill.

‘‘Bridget was strong in attack,’’ Warnock said.

‘‘She was able to provide us shooting accuracy.

‘‘Kelsey was really strong through the midcourt and Chloe provided us drive out of attack.’’

Benalla will now have the bye, before another challenging match against top-two side Seymour. But after a strong showing against the Swans, Warnock said the Saints would go in more confident in matching the Lions.

‘‘Last time, we stayed with them until half-time, I think we were only three goals down,’’ Warnock said.

‘‘But our lack of depth means we couldn’t match it for the whole game.’’

●In Benalla’s earlier matches, nothing separated B-grade, who played out a 40-all draw, while the B-reserve side was outplayed 23-55 by stronger opposition.

In juniors, the under-17s were no match for a very strong Swans outfit, going down 17-54, while the under-15s also lost their match 18-51.