A ST PAT'S defensive masterclass has paved the way to a 22-0 win over Orange Hawks in the Peter McDonald Premiership on Sunday.
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While St Pat's didn't necessarily pile on the points at the Jack Arrow Sporting Complex, the host's effort in holding out Hawks was superb, repelling the visiting defenders on countless occasions throughout the match.
Hawks weren't without their issues though, with numerous drop balls and penalties costing the Orange club precious attacking opportunities.
St Pat's coach Zac Merritt said he was thrilled with the defensive effort from his team.
"I was really pleased with our defence," he said.
"Last week against Mudgee, who are a top quality team, they put a lot of pressure on us but we kept turning them away.
"That was the focus this week. We set a standard then and we wanted to take it onwards throughout the rest of the season.
"As you could see today, we kept turning up for each other and that's what rugby league's all about."
St Pat's opened the scoring within 10 minutes, when Lee McClintock got around the Hawks right hand defence and scored. Matt Beattie added the extras and it was 6-0 to the hosts.
For the next 20 minutes St Pat's would throw back the Hawks attackers on multiple occasions but the home team was lucky not to extend its advantage, being held-up over the line twice.
But three minutes out from the break, Matt Ranse made an almost identical run as McClintock did earlier, beating a number of Hawks defenders and crashing over untouched. With a successful conversion by Beattie again, St Pat's had a 12-0 lead at the break.
The blue and whites would extend their lead just five minutes into the second half when Jack Mackey busted through the defence and got the ball down under the posts. It was another successful conversion and St Pat's were then up 18-0.
The scoreline wasn't threatened again until the 75th minute, when Jackson Brien made a bursting 40-metre run, evading a number of Hawks defenders on his way to scoring out wide for St Pat's, the fourth try of the afternoon. Beattie was unable to convert the try.
Merritt said the win puts St Pat's in good stead, in the run home to the finals.
"That kind of result definitely boosts our confidence," he said.
"We've got that belief in ourselves that we can beat anyone in the comp. It's just sticking to what we've done today."
Hawks coach Shane Rodney said he was disappointed with the effort of his team.
"It was pretty disappointing," he said.
"Last week we took a step forward but today we took two steps back. Take nothing away from St Pat's, they played really consistent footy. We just had too many errors.
"We just don't seem to be learning from those errors at the moment, which makes it hard."
Yet Rodney was full of praise for the winning St Pat's side.
"They are a really solid team, right across the park," he said.
"They've got a really good spine. Their nine, halves, fullback are really good. That was probably the difference today.
"They won't beat themselves, so you have to turn up and play. Unfortunately, we didn't have the right attitude."
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