GETTING back to a near-full strength side has helped St Pat's claim their first victory of the Group 10 premier league season, accounting comfortably for Lithgow Workies in Sunday's latest round.
Both clubs were desperate for success after dreary starts to their respective seasons but a refreshed St Pat's squad had an answer for just about everything Workies threw at them in the 34-10 victory at Tony Luchetti Sportsground.
Man-of-the-match Haze Reweti and the returning Luke Single starred for the Saints as they each came away with two tries each in the resounding win.
Saints had come into the game with defeats against every other team in the competition though they knew the return of several key members, including coach Zac Merritt, would give the team the direction they needed in attack.
Pat's lock Aaron Mawhinney said getting that first taste of victory was a great reward for a team who have been battling hard with a rotating squad each week.
"I think it was a big sigh of relief," he said.
"It's been a long start to the season after having so many injuries to our big name players like Zac, Luke Single, Lee McClintock and now we've got Jack O'Brien out but having those boys back is a huge boost for us.
"That put us close to having a full strength side back and that makes such a huge difference. That experience counts for a lot, especially because we have such a young side.
The Saints got off to a solid start over the opening quarter of the game to take the early ascendancy on the scoreboard but they struggled to keep that momentum going into the lead up to half-time.
We were definitely up for the challenge and we were able to roll straight into our processes.Aaron Mawhinney
Pat's still carried a 20-4 lead into the break and played out a solid second half of football to keep the still-winless Workies at bay.
Despite the patchy periods of play Mawhinney said the strong start helped to lay the platform for Pat's success.
"I think we were definitely up for the challenge and we were able to roll straight into our processes. Zac had talked throughout the week about promoting the football better and playing eyes-up football, and that's exactly what we did," he said.
"We threw the ball around a lot more than we had in other games this year and that felt really good. We were creating opportunities throughout the whole game.
"We never looked like losing the lead, even though there was a little 20 minute period before half-time where we got stuck in a bit of an arm wrestle and in a bit of a grind.
"There were a few errors at that point but after catching our breath at half-time we talked about the fact that they were going to try and come back hard and that we needed to get back into it. Things started happening straight away for us."
It's a huge boost for the Saints as they look to keep their momentum going ahead of this Sunday's magic round clash against the Mudgee Dragons at Wade Park.
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