Brigades smash Rams to cement themselves as the favourites for this year’s flag

Jake Santa Maria and Anna CoxGeraldton Guardian
Northampton's Braden Jupp and Brigades Hayden Johnson.
Camera IconNorthampton's Braden Jupp and Brigades Hayden Johnson. Credit: Snapaction

There is no longer any doubt over who is the GNFL flag favourite after Brigades smashed Northampton in the top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

The Hawks had match winners all across the park in their 20.7 (127) to 7.8 (50) win which moves them a game clear in first place.

The curse of the bye proved to be real after a heavy loss for the Rams, who after an entertaining first quarter coughed up six straight goals in the second to quickly fall away.

Brigades kept it classy, a display of the hard work they had put in since the teams last played each other in round two, forcing a fast-paced game of end-to-end football that was ultimately no match for Northampton.

Northampton kept their skills up for the high stakes game, the ball proved to be sticky for Trent Simpson, demanding the ball and taking clean marks for the duration of the fight.

Players commended for their work with the Rams included Jack McQuie, Harry Taylor, Jaden Poletti, Beau Walker, and Michael Wright, with Taylor scoring four for the green and gold.

The Hawks spread their talent across the field but special mentions went to Hayden Johnson, Kristerfer Ryder, Joel Pattrick, Graham Sandy and Kim Schofield.

The tidy mark from Ryder in front of the goals started the run for the Hawks in the second quarter, thanks to some effective possessions from William Anderson and Hayden Johnson.

Graham Sandy was the unlikely leader in offence for the Hawks, finishing with four goals and kicking multiple goals for the first time this season.

Hawks coach Corey Foot said his team played 22 strong, with key passengers spread evenly across the game and playing their role.

Foot said the team would be focusing on sharing the load going forward to ensure the remaining five rounds had a similar outcome.

It was a milestone game for umpire Steve Pratt, breaking the league umpiring record by putting 271 matches under his belt.

Pratt started his umpiring in the GNFL 15 years ago, and said the friends, atmosphere and connection to the players and his colleagues was what kept him coming back for more.

“I’ve made friends through this that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Pratt, who added the good days outweighed the bad in light of recent turbulence towards umpires within the league.

The veteran has officiated 38 finals and 11 grand finals, and during his time has seen the debut of 33 umpires, with fewer than 10 of those still in the game.

Elsewhere there were no surprises as Chapman Valley kept their slim finals hopes alive, easing past Mullewa 14.11 (95) to 6.8 (44).

Royals coach Aaron Thomas strapped on the boots to lead his side with four goals as they led by 39 points at half-time.

The Saints weren’t without their chances but were inaccurate with 2.8 by the third quarter but were always outclassed on the way to an eighth straight loss.

The Royals move back to four points outside the top four but have played one more game than Rovers and Railways and will need to win their remaining four games to be any chance.

At Country Builders Stadium a spirited Towns went down to Railways 9.6 (60) to 3.5 (23).

The margin belied how close the game was with the Bulldogs coming off their first win of the year taking it right up to the Blues, trailing by just one goal at half-time.

But they could not find the goals in the second half as Railways kicked five straight, led by Jack Cocking’s three, to seal the match.

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