PREMERSHIPS might be built on defence but Koroit could challenge the long-held belief after extending its unbeaten run to three with a 13-point victory over North Warrnambool Eagles yesterday.
The margin, much closer than what appeared possible at three-quarter-time when the Saints held an eight-goal buffer, was achieved with contrasting attacking performances.
The Saints’ arsenal of forward power fired at one end, while Eagles coach David Haynes was like the lone ranger in a shootout, booting 10 goals at the other.
Koroit’s marking forwards of Joe McLaren (four goals), Sam Dobson (four), Chris Chambers (four) Ben Dobson (one) and Brad Williams (one) contributed 14.6 as the Saints won 17.10 (112) to North Warrnambool’s 15.9 (99).
It was a spread that would have made Haynes envious as only himself and mid-sized forward Jeremy Parkinson (two goals) looked dangerous.
Koroit’s efficiency was underlined by the 12.2 to 8.4 scoreline at half-time.
Saints coach Chris McLaren acknowledged his side’s attacking potency.
“Not many sides have five or six top-line forwards,” he said.
“If you can put three, four, five (marking) players into the forward line, you are going to push most defences because it’s hard to match up on all of them.”
The Saints rammed that point home in the first 15 minutes of the match, kicking 5.1 to 0.1 with Chambers (two), Joe McLaren (two) and Sam Dobson (one) benefiting from an open forward 50 and quick ball movement.
Haynes broke the Eagles’ goal drought at the 17-minute mark, kicking the first of three in a four-minute burst that brought the contest to life.
After establishing a 22-point break at half-time, Koroit broke the game open with a devastating third term. Midfielder Ben Goodall inspired his side, swooping on a loose ball, baulking around an opponent and kicking accurately on the run five minutes after the resumption.
Ben Dobson, Chambers and Sam Dobson all scored goals as the Saints’ made four decisive centre breaks.
Koroit blunted the Eagles’ ball winners and kept the visitors goal-less.
Despite kicking 7.2 to 1.3 in the final term, the Eagles never looked capable of getting the points with the sting out of the game.
The Saints ran out of legs with only one fit player on the bench after defender Dallas Mooney (ankle) and Goodall (head injury) were out of action.
Goodall, who needed 15 stitches in a cut on his eyebrow after a clash at the opening bounce of the final term, returned for the last few minutes.
McLaren said he expected Mooney and Goodall to be available for Saturday’s game against Terang Mortlake as the Saints prepare to welcome back ruckman Nathan Meade (overseas) and teenager Jayden Whitehead, who had his tonsils out on Friday.
The Eagles’ perseverence gave Haynes and the club’s supporters heart, but the coach said he needed more players to shoulder the workload.
Vice-captains Xavier Mills and Matthew Wines were good contributors in the midfield, while Parkinson up forward was a live-wire.
The winless Eagles face Cobden on Saturday.