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Well-balanced Panthers still showing the way in GFL

Railways’ goalkicking depth that has paved the way for 12 successive victories overshadows what is also the Goldfields Football League’s stingiest defensive unit as the squad looks to break a five-year premiership drought.

The Panthers’ perfect 2022 record was extended on Sunday with a 95-point win over Kambalda, 16.11 (107) to 1.6 (12), at Kambalda West Oval.

Railways’ spread of four multiple goalkickers, underpinned by five to Jack Steel and four to Daniel Leach, is a far cry to the lone hand played in attack last season by Chris Yarran.

Coach Rhett Pettit, however, is equally pleased with the high defensive standards being maintained as Railways cruise towards the minor premiership.

The red-and-blacks are four games and a big percentage clear of second-placed Boulder.

It was a record Pettit said was due in no small part to a consistent backline that has conceded 10 goals just once this season — against Kalgoorlie in round 13.

Kalgoorlie emerged from that clash with 10.13, but Railways held sway by 25 points.

“It’s great to have (forward) options, but a lot of what we’re doing is based around keeping teams to under 10 goals while backing ourselves to kick 12-plus a game,” Pettit said.

“They’re pretty basic goals we’ve set ourselves all season, but with good results so far.”

At the other end of the ground, Pettit said it was a bonus to have extensive offensive support after Yarran carried the load in 2021 to win the Dick Robinson Medal.

“We’re just so more balanced now and we get Rhys Lane back in the next couple of weeks to hopefully chime in and kick goals,” Pettit said.

“Jacob Oakes got an injury quite early yesterday (Sunday), but is another goalkicker.

“There’s a heap of options, with probably five or six who’ve kicked 10 to 15 goals throughout the season.

“It’s a nice bonus to have, especially after last season when we relied on Chris to kick probably eight goals a game.

“Jordon Reid and Jack Kennedy are two others who can go forward and be great targets.”

Railways blooded Lee Poyner and Jordan Linto against Kambalda in a long line of talented youngsters.

“Lee actually got a shoulder injury in the first half,” Pettit said.

“That was a shame for him, but I was impressed with Jordan who I think is only 15.

“He got a pretty good introduction to league footy with some big hits early, but kept bouncing up and putting his head over the footy at the next contest.

“He’ll learn a lot from that game.”

Kambalda remain without a win after trailing last weekend by 43 points at half-time.

Tyron Ward was the Eagles’ goalkicker.

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