Northampton versus Brigades at the Purcher International Oval on Saturday had all the makings of an entertaining and competitive game of footy.
Both teams were coming off the back of confident wins in Round 8, the Rams taking down the Towns and the Brigades getting a well-earned and hard-fought victory over the Rovers.
Northampton came out the eventual winners, 11.6 (72) to the Brigades 9.7 (61) after a tight first three quarters gave way to a dominant Rams’ final term.
The Rams were needing a win to ensure the gap between themselves and the top three doesn’t widen and get further ahead of the chasing pack.
Jayce Price got the Rams off to a slow but confident start scoring with flair after 10 minutes but not much separated the teams in the first quarter as both teams struggled to find their way through, however Jordan Drage kept composed to give the Rams their second.
The Brigades responded using the breeze to their advantage, scoring twice despite some wayward shots with Ben O’Brian and Daniel Leech ensuring the Hawks stayed in front at the first break 2.3 (15) to the Rams’ two goals straight 2.0 (12).
Liam Campbell got the Rams off to an impressive but controversial start for the second term, scoring and receiving a yellow card in the space of minutes before Nathanial Mourambine got his first of the afternoon with a well taken kick from range.
Beau Walker did his best to marshal his team, keeping calm heads and composure.
The Brigades kept busy with Dale Williamson again proving his value to the team, getting two in the quarter, along with goals across the squad but the Blues were just not quick enough or aggressive enough in the centre.
The first half finished with the Rams back in front, 6.4 (40) to the Brigades 5.5 (35). The narrow lead reflecting the even nature of the first half.
The second half saw the Hawks and the Rams trade the lead, both sides refusing to give much ground and desperate to assert their authority.
Nathanial Mourambine kicked his second for the afternoon and Northampton’s eighth, Liam Campbell adding points for the Rams and more woe for the Brigades.
With Mourambine getting his third, the gap between the two sides widened, with the Hawks struggling to match Northampton’s tenacity and pace.
Kim Schofield wasted a few opportunities, Northampton’s defence not giving much space for the Hawks player to set up attacking plays. Kris Ryder showed moments of inspiration but failed to add to his single goal. Jack Deschamp did his best in defence to make sure the Rams didn’t get more than their fair share of opportunities.
The Rams went into the final break with a convincing lead 9.5 (59) to the Brigades 6.7. (43)
The final session saw Northampton up the ante, Mourambine again leading the charge with a beautiful goal deep into the Hawks half.
Dale Williamson kept the Brigades in the game, narrowing the Rams lead back to 10. But the final result went the home side’s way.
Northampton head coaches Grady Tomelty and Adam Price were pleased with their teams efforts but realistic about the season so far, saying “we are ecstatic about the win but we understand it’s only June and there is a long way to go”.
Mourambine was on fire with five goals for the Rams, while Jace Price kicked two. Flynn Dillon won best on ground and showed his best form of the season.
The Brigades goals came from Williamson with three, and Ben O’Brien with two.
Head coach Cory Foot acknowledged a dip in form for the team. “We were a little off today, we got muscled out of the contest,” he said.
The Brigades suffered injuries to two players, with Izac Ronan and Klay Sipila both going off.
Out at Mullewa, the Railways had no problems accounting for the Saints running out the dominant winners, 17.15 (117) to 6.18 (54).
Elliot Delaney starred with four goals with great support from Jesse Adamini, Mitchell Boyle, Nathan Poletti, Jaigah Williams and Riley Zimmermann.
It was a low scoring affair between the Towns and Chapman Valley as the Royals overcame a 15-point deficit at half time to run out the eventual winners 37-27.
Round 10 sees the Brigades home to Towns while Northampton travel to the Recreation Ground to take on the Railways on Saturday. Mullewa host the Rovers on Sunday, while Chapman Valley has the bye.