By LIAM McALLION
CHARLES Mutton Reserve was packed for what was a highly-anticipated clash after the news of Cameron Cloke’s inclusion for Jacana.
The crowd was not disappointed.
Pace and swift ball movement by the Saints from the very start was countered by the class and mere size of the Jaguars, helping them gain a two-goal lead at quarter time.
The Jaguars’ were headlined by the presence of Cloke at full forward, who coach Robert Fletcher now says is “committed to the football club for the whole year”.
After a slow start by his own standards, Cloke answered the vocal crowd with a huge five-goal second half, hanging onto countless contested marks and finishing with seven majors.
It was a close encounter all day and the margin stayed under three goals until the end.
Defensively the Northern Saints set up a strong wall, making it very uncomfortable for the Jags to get the ball into the forward half.
Ultimately that was how the Saints dominated the second and third quarters.
Daniel Foley’s tactic contrasted with Fletcher’s spare man in defence.
Billy Morrison played that role well for Jacana and the Northern Saints couldn’t avoid him entering their 50.
He used his size to get contested intercept marks and made for some solid counter-attacking footy.
But young guns for the Saints helped keep them in the contest.
Darren Saad was effective in the ruck and former Hadfield premiership player Matthew Gray provided slick handball and intense tackling pressure.
A dominant third quarter by the Saints and in particular Ryan Lofaro, who was gaining plenty of the footy, showed the Saints were adapting better to the wet conditions.
This was complemented by a large home crowd who were right behind them in a fiery, passionate contest.
Running alongside Lofaro was Jacana’s Michael Evans, who was using the restless crowd as his motivation.
He controlled the game and played it on his terms.
He was behind almost every inside 50 and clearance for the Jags.
Evans in combination with Cloke were the main contributors in a demanding last quarter for Jacana.
Together they led the comeback from a 17-point deficit at three-quarter time to end up with a commanding win.
NORTHERN SAINTS 15.8-98
Goal Kickers: K. Clayton 5, K. Taleb 3, M. Taleb 2, D. Boudoloh, B. Fenton, D. Saad, A. Saad, K. Sheehan
Best Players: R. Lofaro, D. Pitruzzello, K. Clayton
Goal Kickers: C. Cloke 7, M. Siciliano 3, B. Kimuliatis 3, Z. Racovolis, B. Mall, B. Morrison, C. Davies, M. Evans, D. Keenan