SPLIT them up the middle, sting them wide - it was a tactic which helped St Pat's to fight off a gritty Cowra Magpies outfit for a 36-16 Group 10 league tag victory at Jack Arrow Oval on Saturday.
Though the Magpies went into the match as definite underdogs - having posted just two wins while the Saints sat undefeated on top of the ladder - they only trailed by six points with 19 minutes remaining.
The Saints needed to lift. That they did with five-eighth Bronte Emanuel weaving her magic in the centre of the paddock, Meredith Jones making some penetrating runs and the back line finding space on the fringes.
Sarah Watterson, who switched to fullback in the absence of Erin Naden, finished with a hat-trick as did centre Paige Hay.
"They are a side if you let them come in, they can build with that momentum and come over the top. So we did really need to step up and catch those balls and short passes, which we did," Saints skipper Mish Somers said.
"We went numbers up the middle, were able to open them up a little bit and then we were able to use our speed out wide, which was handy. We've got a fair bit of speed out there, so it was good to be able to use it "
The Saints opened scoring after just 15 seconds. Cowra was made to pay for letting the kick-off find touch as quick hands created space for Hay to cross in the left corner for her first.
The following set the Saints were in again as Watterson won the chase to a Somers chip kick and when the fullback made it a brace in the 10th minute - this time via a nice 60 metre effort - the blue and whites looked in control.
However, Cowra lifted and controlled the five-minute period to half-time as they finally enjoyed some possession - at one stage stringing together three consecutive sets.
It saw them claw things back to 14-6 at the break.
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A Jones line break, brilliant Emanuel short ball and nice evasion by Hay saw the Saints score one minute after the resumption.
While Cowra responded via Maddison Brooks to get it back to 18-12 - that the first of her two tries for the match - the Saints crossed twice in the space of four minutes to kill off any hope of a Magpies upset.
Hay sealed the win by scoring 31 seconds from time.
"I think a week off and light numbers at training the last couple of weeks has probably hurt us a little bit, but we found some composure and used the wind to our advantage to get down there and put some pressure on," Somers said.