Saints out to end Yeppoon’s historic winning run
An Aussie rules-best 89-game win streak stands between the North Mackay Saints and a perfect pre-season start to 2021.
The Yeppoon Swans made national headlines in October last year when they cruised to a sixth-consecutive AFL Capricornia premiership, surpassing South Australian side Heathfield-Aldgate's 44-year mark of 88 consecutive wins.
The Swans set a new national benchmark as the most consistently successful senior club in Australia - and it is with that in mind that Mackay's two-time reigning premiers will welcome Yeppoon to town in March.
For the second year in a row, the Saints and Swans will do battle in a pre-season friendly - the CQ Cup Challenge - pitting the premiers of Mackay against their Capricornia counterparts.
The Saints travelled to Yeppoon last year and were thoroughly trounced by the Swans to the tune of 113 points.
North Mackay key forward Cameron Hill was water runner during that game - sidelined with a broken arm.
Hill believes the Saints are better equipped for a second shot at the Swans this time around, with a stronger side and home ground advantage in their favour.
"We only had 11 of our premiership side playing in that game and the rest were a mixture of under-17s and ressies boys who wanted a run," Hill said of last year's match.
"With travel and everything else it was difficult to get everyone keen to travel down.
"I think this time around, home deck will be an advantage for us. We'll also have more players available this year from our premiership side last year."
Hill said the Saints also would be better tactically compared to the previous meeting between the two top sides.
"They were definitely better drilled and fitter than us (last year)," Hill said.
"This time around we've got more of a game plan; we're a bit more drilled.
"That first premiership we won (in 2019) was basically because we had a good team, but the past couple of years we've been better drilled."
Regardless, Hill expects Yeppoon to bring with them a quality side eager to prove they can win on the road as easily as they do at home.
"They're undefeated for a reason. They're a classy side and it will be hard to beat them," he said.
Win or lose come March 20, Hill said the pre-season hitout would be a good tone setter for the Saints' season.
"It'll be good to see where we are at this year compared to where we were this time last year," he said.
"After running in the new zones and with new players going through the middle; it will also be good to see how much depth we have in the team, too.
"We should have 15 or 16 of last year's premiership team playing, instead of the 10 or 11."