East Gambier sent a strong message to arch rival North Gambier in the 12th round of the 2021 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League season on Saturday.
The Bulldogs have won all three clashes against the Tigers, but saved their best for the latest battle at Vansittart Park.
The home crowd was silent during the opening quarter as the visitors did not let North trouble the scorers until the second term.
Despite East’s ruthless start, the Tigers clawed their way back into the fight and reduced the deficit from 19 points to just three.
Gritty efforts from Declan Kenny, Nick McInerney and Will Stafford around the ground led North’s fightback, but it did not last long.
The Bulldogs’ midfield brigade of Riley Janeway, Matt Willson, Jake Harrap and Jayden Eldridge ran riot and pushed the visitors towards victory.
Youngsters Shaun Lock and Beau Nunan were too quick for the home side’s backline and booted five goals collectively, while Grady Janeway, Shem Balshaw and Todd Lockwood also made an impact in East’s scoring bonanza.
North had no answer after half time and could only manage two points for the rest of the game, while East banged home 78.
Bulldogs co-coach Eldridge said he was encouraged by the way his team flipped a potentially dangerous situation into a comprehensive victory.
“Scores were nearly level at half time, so we regrouped and worked on a few things to create some scoreboard pressure,” he said.
“We let ourselves down with a 10-minute lapse, so it was very pleasing to see the group respond so well.” Eldridge said the secret behind the second half blitz was a measured approach to progressing inside 50.
“I think just controlling our football (was the big difference),” he said.
“In the second quarter we let North run off and score a few goals, so we went back to the drawing board to make sure we out that pressure on up the ground and play one on one football.
“Then once you start to beat your player our run and carry was exemptional and our ball users were running everywhere.” Despite wet conditions underfoot making life difficult, East had at least eight individual goal scorers for the third week in a row showcasing its ability to score from all corners of the ground.
But this weekend’s Victorian road trip to Casterton will be a different test as the side will not enjoy the services of co-coaches Eldridge and Willson.
The classy duo have been selected to play for the Murray South East zone team in the SA Country Championships, so bench coach Dereck Ferguson will move the magnets.
Eldridge said he will back his teammates to still take home the premiership points.
“It is nice to be picked, but pretty disappointing to miss the game, but I am sure the boys will stick together and get the chocolates,” he said.
“Casterton never give up and will throw everything at us, but we will back the brand of footy we are playing to get over the line.”