North Wagga stand alone at the top of the Farrer League ladder but only after narrowly surviving a Barellan comeback on Saturday.
With top spot there for the taking following Marrar’s loss at Temora, the Saints gave up a 32-point lead early in the fourth quarter, conceding five straight goals to be staring down the barrel of becoming Barellan’s first scalp this year.
The Two Blues levelled the scores at 81-all in time-on at McPherson Oval before North Wagga rallied with three late goals for a 15.11 (101) to 12.9 (81) win.
It was both heart-breaking and uplifting all at once for Barellan.
“I said to the boys it probably hurts more than a 200-point loss,” co-coach Matt Irvin said.
“But the positives out of it are just crazy for us. It’s a fantastic way to start the back half of the year. We came up with the goods in terms of our effort and our ability and we know what we’re capable of now.”
Key forward James McCabe had an outstanding game, taking some strong marks and finishing with three goals. Tom Conlan also kicked three.
“Kabe Stockton was fantastic as well, intercepting the ball and his ball use when we’re in possession,” Irvin said. “It was fantastic to see him back in the side and giving his all.”
Alex Grozinger kicked five goals for North Wagga, including two at the death, as the Saints engineered their escape.
At the other end, full-back Sam Longmore was excellent, stepping up in Brayden Skeers’ absence.
Skeers could be out for well over a month after a knock to his knee last week turned out to be worse than expected. He’s awaiting advice from a specialist after scans revealed a PCL tear.
Saints’ coach Kirk Hamblin also missed the game with a shoulder complaint but hopes to be back next week.
He said Barellan’s discipline and endeavour in getting numbers back restricted North Wagga, and they left it extremely late to start finding the space they needed up forward to seal victory.
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