Demons ‘class above’

South Gambier proved it is the team to beat in the 2021 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League after a comprehensive win over Kybybolite in the second round at Blue Lake Sports Park on Sunday. The Demons warmed up by compiling a cricket score against Kongorong in the season opener, but their 53-point victory over Kyby was arguably more impressive.

Kybybolite shaped up to be South’s archrival for the 2021 premiership and it tried to counter the threat of last season’s minor premiers with an aggressive style of play. However, the Demons were a class above on home soil and left a huge dent in Kyby’s confidence.

The game started at a hot pace with both sides attacking the ball with vigour. But no major was scored for the first six minutes until Lauren Frost pounced on an opportunity and hit the chest of Simone Macdonald at the top of the goal square.

Three minutes before the quarter time siren Neave Delaney shrugged off her opponent and slotted a goal from the pocket to seal a strong start for South. After being held scoreless during the first term, Kybybolite returned from the break with determination and entered its forward 50 more regularly.

It was a more even contest around the ground, but the visitors could not keep up with the home side’s outside run and a burst by Claudia Edmonds from the middle setup the next major. At the other end of the ground, South captain Kaylene Nuske was a huge influence causing many turnovers to slow Kyby’s fightback.

The Demons kicked clear in the third stanza with Kendell Saffin’s on-the-run major from the pocket and Edmonds’ fend off plus successful snap highlights. Their lead progressed to the 50-point barrier after a dominant term with the hosts enjoying first use of the ball.

Kybybolite produced an improved effort in the last quarter and attacked the big sticks regularly. But led by Nuske, South’s backline was almost impregnable and shut down many of Kyby’s forward entries to keep the visitors goalless.

Chelsea Frost’s leg speed was a feature of the match and it was evident in the dying moments when she swooped in on a loose ball and ran clear to kick the Demons’ final major. She was named best-on-ground for the victors, while Tyler Atkinson’s tireless effort in the middle fronted Kybybolite.

Despite the large winning margin, South coach Damian Delaney said the result was not an accurate representation of the standard of play. “I have watched a lot of women’s footy over the years and that was one of the best games I have seen,” he said. “A lot of girls football is packed, but this had everything with hard, physical contests and outside running.”

With two big wins already on the board, the Demons are the hot favourites and Nuske believes the secret is the side’s bright mindset. “We are just focused on having fun, providing an open and positive team culture,” she said.

“We certainly have a fantastic group of players, but we cannot put out a team without our support crew at the club. “Everyone is just trying to improve on being a better player and person.”

A fast start gave Penola the initiative in the opening fixture at Blue Lake Sports Park with Mundulla. The Eagles flew to a 23-point lead before the opening break, but the margin was cut back to single figures after the half-time siren. The second half was an arm wrestle with Lauren Tink leading Mundulla’s charge, but the free spirit of Caroline McGrath ensured Penola won by nine points.

Kalangadoo is also undefeated and its confidence grew with a 40-point win over Millicent at Kongorong. The Saints had no answers for Magpies’ skill and could not trouble the scorers.

Meanwhile, Brianna Devine and Emmason Ilsley were damaging at the other end with two goals each, while Chloe Pratt was an influential figure. Stephanie Gilbert never gave up for Millicent all day.

The final match at Kongorong was a competitive arm wrestle between the home team and North Gambier. Playing in their first game of the season after a bye in round 1, the Tigers went on the front foot with a two-goal opening term.

But the Hawks hit back with eight points to zero in the second quarter to keep the result in doubt. North took control of the game in the third stanza by doubling its total and extending the lead to a game-high 20 points.

Kongorong clawed the deficit back to 18 points before the final siren, but could not prevent the defeat. The Tigers showcased their depth with five unique goal scorers led by Chloe Perryman, while Evie Sealey performed for the home team.

Kybybolite plays host to North and the Mundulla-Millicent fixture tomorrow night.

South hosts Kalangadoo in a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday, while the Kongorong and Casterton Sandford battle depends on border restrictions.

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