The South Eastern Times : July 15th 2014
18 WESTERN BORDER FOOTBALL Saints avoid a blowout result Some improving signs in loss to North DAVE TURNER ONE would have expected a blowout with the top side playing the bottom in the Western Border Football League on Saturday but this wasn’t the case at McLaughlin Park on Saturday when Millicent hosted North Gambier. As expected the Tigers ran out winners by 51 points, but they didn’t have it all their own way, particularly in the second half when the Saints held their own on the scoreboard. On the two previous occasions they met this year North won by 80 points in Round 3 and 108 in Round 8. MAN IN FRONT: North Gambier’s Brock Egan marks in front of Millicent’s Adam Allen. In the majority of their matches this season the Saints have faded in the latter part of their clashes, but this time round they ran the game out with a more determined effort to be only outscored by a single goal with their younger brigade finishing full of run. Considering the amount of rain in the days leading up to the game, McLaughlin Park was in good condition with very few muddy areas and players rarely lost their footing. The rain stayed away during the afternoon and only a light shower fell mid-morning. How the game unfolded THE home side matched it with the Tigers in the opening few minutes and it took over five minutes for the scoreboard attendant to be worried with the opening goal coming from North ruckman Sam Whelan when he kicked from 50 metres to see the ball clear the goal square pack and bounce through the uprights. Millicent managed to move the ball forward but was held up by the strong North backline. The only score it could post was a point in the first half of the term, whereas the visitors saw majors come from their coach Justin McConnell, Scott Flett and Bradley Stafford. Unfortunately Nick McInerney suffered a knee injury midway through the term and was assisted from the ground. He will be in doubt for the next round and his future thereafter will depend on the results of scans. The Saints’ opening goal came well into time-on when young Jayden Reilly snapped truly as he broke away from a pack 20 metres out. However, North immediately got the answering goal when Whelan won the centre bounce for the ball to go forward resulting in its skipper Brock Egan receiving a handball to kick truly from 40 metres out. North had stamped its authority on the game as it led 5.0 to 1.2 at the first break. Second quarter TWO HAND PUNCH: North Gambier coach, Justin McConnell punches clear of Millicent ruckman, Cameron Haggett, while North ruckman, Sam Whelan waits for a loose ball. 18 - The South Eastern Times, Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Pictures: KELVIN RUGE, BLAKE LAKE PRINTWORKS THE Tigers opened the second as they had finished the first with Whelan once again winning the ruck against Craig Thomson to see Dylan Munn on the end of a pass to bring up his side’s sixth major. The reigning premiers continued their dominance over the next few minutes with further goals coming from Flett and Egan. They consistently won the ball out of the centre through the dominance of onballers Egan, Patrick Perry and Stafford, and Flett at centre half-forward. McConnell added further misery to the Saints’ woes as he booted his second for the match and his side’s ninth. Mitchell Gordon had a chance to get Millicent’s second major for the match when he marked 40 metres out but his shot resulted in a minor score. It was well into time-on before the Saints scored their opening goal for the term when Nat Robbins flashed into the game to kick accurately from 50 metres. Once again North scored an answering goal through the agency of young Bradley Close. Just before the half-time siren Gordon had another chance to score and this time he was on target for his side’s third for the goal. The Tigers held a commanding 10.6 to 3.3 lead at the long break. Third quarter AS the second half began it looked like the Tigers would record a huge win, particularly as they opened with the first major coming from the dangerous Nick Moretti, but the home side had different ideas as they began to match it with their more fancied opponents. Jeremy Hales got and answering goal as his side dug in to fight the match out. It was a tight affair for the next 15 minutes with neither side able to affect the scoreboard until North’s Close managed to mark 40 metres out and to kick accurately. Robbins brought up the answering goal when he received a 50 metre penalty, taking him from half-back to half-forward and his booming kick just cleared the goal-line pack. Shortly after, Brad Tilley booted a another for the Saints. With the term coming to a close North managed two more majors through Moretti and McConnell (his third for the game). It was a promising quarter for the Saints as they managed to hold their own with the Tigers, with the score at the end of the term being 14.8 to 6.5. Final quarter THE home side continued its new found form in the final quarter. The backlines were on top for the opening 10 minutes, until Ben Zalme (off the interchange bench) broke the drought for the home side when he goaled from a slight angle, 30 metres out. It took North 20 minutes to score its opening major for the term and this came from Troy Hatt, and shortly after another came from Perry. As time-on began, Robbins scored his third goal for the game. It was a tight struggle with both The wash-up NORTH set up its victory in the first half when it broke away to establish a 45 point lead. To the Saints’ credit they lifted their endeavour in the second half to be only outscored by a single goal, and they ran the match out instead of fading from the game. The reigning premiers would have been thankful that they dominated play for two quarters, but on the other hand the coaching staff would have been disappointed that they relaxed in the second half and sat on their lead. North had more options up forward with nine players getting among the goals and its onball brigade created many opportunities while Whelan was winning the centre bounces early in the game. When Cameron Haggett came onto the ball his influence was reduced. Millicent can take many positives from the match, particularly when considering its recent fadeouts late in the game. Its second half was competitive against the top side and it could be considered as its best effort for the season. Mention must be made of the excellent umpiring on the day as they let the game flow and rewarded those who made the ball their object. There were no spiteful incidents, a credit to those in charge. Coaches’ comments NORTH coach, Justin McConnell, while happy with the win, was full of praise for the Saints’ second half and disappointed for his side’s effort. “They gave us a real lesson in the second half as they lifted their work rate and discipline. They were impressive,” McConnell said. “We let the scoreboard dictate our work rate in the second half. We have a number of issues to overcome, we’re just not on our game. Our first half was satisfactory. “We face East next round and will be looking for a big improvement. Hopefully we may have O’Grady and Quirk back from injury,” he said. On the opposite end of the scale, Millicent coach, Andrew Robinson, was disappointed with the first half but full of praise of his side in the second. “We had very few good patches of play in the opening half, but to our players’ credit we put in some of our best defensive football for the year in the second. It was a pity we let them get away to such a big lead,” Robinson said. “I say it each week – our younger brigade keep improving. Each week we manage to push the opposition for part of each match. It is only a matter time before we can tie four quarters together,” Robinson said. The Saints next meet West Gambier who have lost its last four games and are in danger of losing their top three spot on the ladder. www.thesoutheasterntimes.com.au sides unable to get clear as the final siren sounded with North winning 16.9 (105) v 8.6 (54).
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