As high-flying Sydney Swans legend Warwick Capper was busy making the fans at “The Kennel” howl with laughter inside the McDonald Park clubrooms, it was no laughing matter on the field for East Gambier as Casterton Sandford edged ahead on an interesting Saturday afternoon of Western Border football.
The Bulldogs only needed 40 seconds to make an impact when coach Matt Scanlon calmly completed a set shot.
Despite repetitive responses by the Cats, the hosts always had an answer and the gutsy work of Shaun Lock, Jayden Eldridge and Dylan Howard ensured they held onto a seven-point lead after an entertaining first term.
But the boys in the blue and white hoops moved the ball with more control in the second term as Justin Carlin and Diarmid Cleary formed a potent combination in the middle, while Alastair McCrae started to flex his muscles inside 50.
A snap around the corner by McCrae sent Casterton Sandford into the lead for the first time during a term where it kicked three goals to one to change the momentum.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued after the main break when East found its best again.
With Lock and Eldridge tearing it up on the wing and Howard doing his best Capper impression on the shoulders of Josh Cottier, the Bulldogs were able to pepper the Cats’ backline and create many scoring opportunities.
East took the lead after less than five minutes of play and should have been able to land a killer blow having created 13 scoring shots to five.
However, the Bulldogs could not find their range missing 10 of the 13 shots at goal from all angles.
With the visitors able to make the most of their rare opportunities at the Jubilee Highway end, the red and black’s struggles to kick straight would eventually prove costly.
Instead of East enjoying a formidable lead heading into the final stanza, the scoreboard was locked at 61 apiece when the coaches tried to express some last words of inspiration to their comrades.
With the game on the line both sides attacked the Sherrin ferociously to gain the advantage in the deciding passage of play.
After the first five minutes it appeared East held the aces after scoring the first two goals to open up a 14-point lead.
But the relentless presence of Cleary, Matt Killey and Dylan Ayton soon became too much and within a blink of an eye the scoreboard was neck and neck once again.
The Cats’ offensive pressure forced the East defenders into mistakes and a superb chase down tackle by Cleary allowed Billy Galpin to score his fourth and the final major of the day.
Casterton Sandford was able to control possession over the final five tense minutes to claw onto the battling 11-point win.