The Cootamundra Blues made it 3 wins in a row on Saturday when they defeated a spirited Ainslie Saints outfit at Alan Ray Oval.

The Blues were made to work hard for the victory but controlled the game from start to finish, running out 11.8.74 to 5.7.37 winners. Kicking into a strong breeze in the first quarter, the Blues got off to a perfect start with co-captain Phil Bird winning a clearance off the first play of the game to deliver the ball on a platter to Sandy Maskell-Knight, who made no mistake in front of goal.

Maskell-Knight was a dominant presence all day up forward for the Blues, kicking a game high 5 goals for the side in his best performance of the season to date.

Andy Merritt continued his recent strong run of form with another hot start in the midfield. Merritt’s combination of size and speed make him a nightmare matchup for opposition taggers, and he used both to full effect on Saturday in another top-drawer performance.

While the wind ensured Ainslie would keep the score line close for the first quarter, the Blues, led by James Ross, stepped up a gear in the second, further increasing their advantage.

Ross, who has been a shining light across half back this season, was at his absolute best on Saturday, dominating around the defensive side of the ground and routinely showing a clean set of heels in rebounding his side into attack. Moving into an unfamiliar ruck role, Jarrod Keelan played an outstanding game.

Despite being undersized, Keelan battled valiantly against a high-quality opponent and ensured his side got their fair share of the football around the stoppages.

Up at halftime but running back into the wind, the Blues came out determined not to let their opponents back into the contest.

Cody Jordan and Blake Basham were again rock solid defensively, providing a stubborn wall of resistance all day. Harvey Holt continued to work his way into form, producing a solid four quarter effort and kicking 2 well deserved goals for the day.

With the lead over 7 goals going into the last quarter, the Blues were guilty of switching off and attempting to coast to the finish line. Ainslie were determined not to go away lightly, producing their best quarter of football for the game and forcing the Blues to run out the game. Ben Bungey, Troy Piercy and Jacob Tiernan all showed their class when most were ready to call it a day, dragging their side over the line and ensuring there would be no improbable comeback. Despite the win, the game ended on a sour note for the Coota boys with Blues vice-captain Mick Knagge suffering a dislocated shoulder late in the game.

Goals: Maskell-Knight 5, H.Holt 2, N. Holt 1, Bungey 1, Scott 1, Pearson 1. Best: Merritt, Ross, Jordan, B.Basham, Keelan, Maskell-Knight.

The win sees the Blues currently occupying second place on the ladder on percentage points. Next up For Cootamundra is a scheduled ‘home’ game to be played in Yass against the Googong Hogs at Joe O’Connor Park. The Blues will have to adjust not only to the loss of Knagge, but Cody Jordan as well, who is unavailable this week. To offset these big outs, the Blues selectors will be hoping to have a number of potential handy inclusions this week, with Brad McNamara, Nick Simons, Eli and Declan Honner, Cody Hardy and Kai Baumhammer all missing the Blues last game.

As a courtesy to the hosting Yass Roos, both division 3 sides have agreed to play in the earlier 12pm time slot to allow the division 4 sides to play the main game at 2pm.

JP