Tough Stretch

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By Connor Schmidtke

South Belgrave are showing everyone why they deserve promotion into Division One for the first time this season, jumping out of the blocks to sit alone on top of the ladder after 12 games in an otherwise hotly contested Division Two.

The Saints have won 11 of their 12 games so far this year, dropping just one game against Mulgrave earlier in round five.

Their most recent win against Templestowe marks their seventh consecutive victory, with six of these wins ending with a margin of 25-points or more. The Saints have also racked up the highest number of points per game through 12 rounds, all while solidifying a percentage of over 200 at the top of the ladder.

South Belgrave are no strangers to seasons of this nature, with the most recent completed season ending with the Saints as Division Three premiers, following a perfect campaign. They carried that form into Division Two in 2021 and were well poised for finals run before the pandemic halted any chance of September.

South Belgrave’s head coach, Luke Galliott credited the balance of his playing group for their form this season.

“The evenness of the group, our kids and young guys have really stood up and brought a good energy each week. That helps the rest of the group to play consistently for the most part,

“Our better players have been important and played well most weeks. Mitch Garner in the ruck, Tim Smith up forward, those sorts of guys have been the icing on the cake to an extent,

“I think it’s been the balance though, the guys that have come in and played roles while we’ve still got a handful of important guys that have been injured for long parts of the year.”

Galliott was at the helm when South Belgrave claimed the Division Three Premiership in 2019 and says that he keeps the gameplan simple for his playing group, with the basics propelling his side to the next level.

“I think it can get monotonous for the guys because we really try to coach the same message, and it’s a basic message, from week to week about effort and energy,

“We’re trying to improve that communication from contest to contest, around stoppages and our organisation. Getting them to concentrate all the time, trying to get them to not give up an easy ball or easy stoppages,

“Getting the group to buy in and understand how important that is, week to week and contest to contest.” 

The Saints face a very tough five weeks of football, playing all five teams directly below them on the ladder. This includes the other three teams making up the top four, and Mulgrave who handed South Belgrave their only loss of the season so far.

Although the Saints have beaten their nearest rivals already this year, South Belgrave understand that any team can challenge them on their day.

Galliott says there is a real fight for spots in the best 22, with a number of key players coming back soon which is keeping his side motivated each week.

“The guys are aware that we’ve got players coming back in. We’ve got five or six guys that will walk straight back into the team in the coming two to six weeks,

“It’s about trying to find out what our bottom six looks like, regarding the individuals and how we can get improvement out of those guys and find roles for them,

“It’s really driving us. The good thing about our group is they want to win every week, losing a game here or there is not an option for these guys,

“The Mulgrave loss was a real kick up the bum for them, so it’s not that hard to motivate them. I don’t need to rant and rave to get them up, they just do their thing.”

South Belgrave’s tough stretch starts this weekend with a clash against The Basin, before their attention switches to the battles with the other top four sides.

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