THERE was a time when she was a key for the Orange Hawks, but now Cheynoah Merchant is carving up in Group 10 league tag as a Saint.
Merchant was one of the standouts for St Pat's on Sunday as they posted a 40-0 win over the Cowra Magpies at Jack Arrow Oval.
She scored one of the seven tries the defending premiers laid on, put team-mates into space with some smart off-loads, made good yards every carry, was strong in defence and at one stage took an intercept.
"She's from Orange Hawks, she's had a couple of years off and lives in Bathurst now. She's a really handy pick up, she just runs onto the ball so well, has got great hands and a good head for footy," Saints captain-coach Mish Somers said of Merchant.
"It's been great having her out on the paddock. She's got all the skills and a bit of a touch background, so a very handy pick up."
While the Saints forced two line drop-outs in the opening 10 minutes of the match, Cowra's defence stood firm and in turn the Magpies created their own chances via a pair of Emilie Browne line breaks.
But after the hosts finally cracked Cowra's defence in the 14th minute, what followed was the sort of football which has seen them dominate the Group 10 competition.
It was Paige Hay who bagged the opener, stepping three defenders on a 35 metre run to the line.
The Saints scored off their next two sets in succession, Merchant rewarded for her efforts with a four-pointer before Amy Copping put Hay over for her second.
That made it 18-0 at the break and it was only a brilliant chase from Browne which prevented the Magpies being even further behind after Merchant put a team-mate into space on the stroke of half-time.
Five minutes after play resumed Hay was in again, catching out Cowra with a quick tap from a penalty.
Fullback Erin Naden bagged a double - the first of which was a 50 metre special - while Meredith Jones got on the scoresheet too.
"Cowra are a great tagging side, we know they are always good the first 10 minutes of each half, so that was a bit of a grind there," Somers said.
"We had a few girls out of position today with a few out, so it took us a bit to get into our rhythm, but when we did I felt the girls ran onto the ball well and played some good footy.
"It took so long to get going, but that's two weeks in a row now and it's nice to get a bit of footy under our belts. It helps to get some combinations because we've got a few new players."
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