TOO STRONG: The Saints were no match for reigning AFLDD premiers University Cougars on Saturday.
TOO STRONG: The Saints were no match for reigning AFLDD premiers University Cougars on Saturday. Keagan Elder

Reigning premiers show Saints the way forward

Australian Football: Travelling even lighter than the week before and up against the reigning AFL Darling Downs premiers, the South Burnett Saints were no match for hosts University Cougars on Saturday.

The Saints started brightly and matched the competition heavyweights around the contest early, but as the game settled and University were able to get into their rhythm it became apparent the visitors were in for a long day at the office.

The undermanned Saints fought tooth and nail at the contest, but according to playing president Daniel Clacy they lacked the polish on the outside to really damage University when it mattered.

"We didn't make the most of our opportunities,” Clacy said.

"At every stoppage we would win the ball almost every time off the tap but then we'd have nothing to give it to.

"(University) would have people roaming the packs five metres out waiting for that quick handball, and that's what hurt us.

"Uni rubbed a bit of salt in the wound at times, but in the last quarter we stood up and didn't make it as easy as we could have for them.”

With a host of Saints regulars unavailable and two more debutants making appearances on the weekend, Clacy said it was always going to be tough to match the cohesiveness of their opponents.

"They run in packs really well, I'd say they've all be playing together for a long time,” Clacy said.

"We won a lot of footy, but we just rushed it or didn't think enough. We have a lot of players new to football and each other, there's no old heads in the side (to step up).”

Yet to play a game at home this season, Clacy said the Saints struggled to adapt to the hosts' bigger ground.

"It's one of the biggest grounds in the competition and not what we're used to,” Clacy said.

"Having more space, it doesn't work to our type of game. We rushed a bit too much and on the big field they're just sitting there waiting to gobble it up.”

Jack Horne and Lloyd Slater were strong on debut for the Saints, while Clacy highlighted the hard work of Brenton Noe and the pace of Brayden Snow as valuable through the middle of the park. Coach Paul Pressnell was again forced to play, and chipped in with multiple goals. It gets no easier this weekend, when the Saints travel to take on last season's runners-up, South Toowoomba Bombers.

"It won't be an easy game, but with some players back hopefully we can give it our best,” Clacy said.