FIT AND READY: Wade Beard is back from injury and ready to be a key part of the Maitland Saints push to win the BDAFL Division One premiership.Maitland Saints finals hopes received a major boost withstar forward Wade Beard returningfrom injury to kick three goals in his side’s90-point win against Killarney Vale at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

The Saints return to Adelaide Oval on Sunday for the second semi-final against BDAFL Division Oneminor premiers Singleton.

It was Beard’s first game since he fractured his collarbone in the Saints 63-pointround 10win against Singleton.

Maitland should have a full list to pick from with key midfielders Ben Stewart and Jim Taranto rested on Saturday, along with centre half-forward Pat McMahon.

The Saints have taken Beard’s absence in their stride winning the next seven games, including a 19-point win against perennial powerhouse Newcastle City at Newcastle No.1 Oval in round 13.

Maitland has found new avenues to goal and settled into a game style based on spreading the ball from defence and hard support running.

Mitchell Greaves was the latest player to contribute up forward leading the scoring with Beard with three goals.

Small forwards Aiden Damico and Josh Button both kicked two goalsalong with Andrew Elbourn and Hayden Taylor.

Elbourn and Taylor’s contributions wereparticularly pleasing as they reinforce the versatility coach David Ross has been able to establish in his squad.

Taylor has been the Saints No.1 ruckman and earned selection in the BDAFL development team, while Elbourn has been a mainstay of the Saints defence with Ben Crowley.

The Saints young brigade continue to flourish withCallan Sargent in the Saints best andDion Graham and Riley Newstead making valuable contributions in recent weeks.

The winner of Sunday’s clash between Maitland and Singletonadvances straight to the grand final on September 3.

The loser gets a second chance and willplay the winner of the first semi-final between Newcastle City andGosford in the preliminary final on August 27.

Meanwhile, the Saints women’s team has capped on a great year with midfielder Jess Cassidy and coach Casey Eastham both nominated for theinauguralBDAFL Women’s team of the year.


Maitland 17.11-113 d Killarney Vale 3.5-23

MAITLAND:Goals:M. Greaves 3, W. Beard 3, J. Button 2, H. Taylor 2, A. Elbourn 2, A. Damico 2, L. Damico, D. Graham, C. Warneken.Best:A. Damico, A. Elbourn, H. Matheson, C. Carroll, M. Greaves, C. Sargent

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