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Goulburn Valley Football League is in contention for the number one ranking in country Victoria again after defeating Ballarat by 65 points in the interleague competition on Saturday.
The 23-man squad included five Benalla Saints players, while reserves coach Sam Little was selected as the side’s assistant coach.
Playing coach Luke Morgan was among those included, and said the selection was to the benefit of his young side.
‘‘Individually, to be able to play in the best 23 players in the league is always an honour,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘For the club to have five in seniors and two in the thirds was a really good showing and the club should be really proud of how many they got in the side.
‘‘It helps players challenge themselves against better opposition playing with other players that are top in the league, it also helps them prepare and learn and look at what other people do.’’
Ballarat stayed in touch in the first half at Deakin Reserve, but Goulburn Valley piled on 15 goals to Ballarat’s six in the second half to put its stamp on the game and claim the win.
Next year Goulburn Valley will meet the top country Victorian side, Geelong, which it lost to last year.
Goulburn Valley led by three points at quarter-time but in the second quarter Benalla’s Will Martiniello and Luke Morgan led the way through the midfield to create opportunities for the forward line.
Their work rate saw the home side stretch the lead to 30 points — including a major to Benalla’s Nick Warnock — before Ballarat slashed the lead shortly before the major break.
Martiniello was rewarded for his hard work and drive with the interleague medal.
‘‘He’s probably been the best player on the ground in all six of our games,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘He’s a little star and I just hope he sticks around for a lot longer.’’
Benalla’s young ruckman Josh Marchbank also performed well in the interleague side, as well as defender Lachie Smith. Warnock finished with three goals.
In the under-18 side’s 33-point victory Benalla players Tom O’Brien and Zach Pallpratt represented the club well.
Conditions were tough in the misty morning at Deakin Reserve, with both sides struggling to find their feet in the greasy conditions.
However, a seven-goal final term spurred the home side to victory after a tough battle for three quarters.
Morgan said all Benalla players got through the game unscathed, which put the side in good stead for its home match against reigning premier Kyabram this week.
‘‘It’s been built up for a little while, Kyabram are going to be a good team again this year,’’ he said.
More interleague results, page 35.
●Saints star: Benalla Saints midfielder
Will Martiniello won the interleague medal for his
performance against Ballarat Football League on
Saturday. Picture: Ray Sizer