An unexpected three-week pause in the middle of the Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League did little to slow the South Gambier juggernaut on Saturday.
The break gave the Demons a chance to refresh after their unbelievable start to the season and left them well-placed to tackle with the off-field dramas attached to their round-10 fixture with Casterton Sandford.
The match was originally scheduled to take place at Blue Lake Sports Park, but after doubt surrounded the game for much of the week, South decided to relinquish the home-ground advantage after the Cats expressed concerns some of their players could not complete the journey across the border.
Despite the venue change taking place less than two days before first bounce, the Demons had little trouble knocking over the Victorians and winning by an even 100 points.
However, the one-sided result masks the tight first quarter which saw Casterton Sandford scrap hard to compile three goals.
Although South only held a 13-point margin at the first break, victorious coach Brayden Kain was not overly concerned with the Cats’ early burst led by Ricky Killey and Jackson Gibbs.
He trusted the team’s ability to back the process after they expressed a desire to play no matter the situation.
“The boys wanted to play regardless of where it was, but knew Casterton is always a little bit tougher at home,” he said.
“From our perspective, we all had fresh legs and things were back to even at the start because we could not take anything from the first half of the season.
“Credit to Casterton, they came out hard from the first bounce with an intense full-ground press, so we had to be really patient and hang onto the footy when we could to swing the momentum.
“We regrouped, ran them off their feet with 22 contributors and capitalised after that.” The Cats were clawless for the remainder of the game, only scoring a single goal between the first and final sirens, while the Demons sprinted ahead.
Jack Tentye and Brock Keding had their “best games of the year” taking on Casterton in the contested ball and freeing the visitors’ outside runners.
The man who enjoyed the speedy delivery inside 50 was Kym Eagleson, who took home a bag of five goals, while Kain and Colby Munro were the others to regularly attack the big sticks on a goal-scoring list which included 11 names.
The margin of victory could have been even greater if South took all its chances, but the side continues to go from strength to strength.
As a reward for the faultless start to the season, the Demons eased off the accelerator during the mid-year break.
But Kain had bad news for his rivals and said the squad also utilised the time off to address any chinks in its formidable armour and brace themselves for an even bigger run to the finals.
“There were a couple of unsettling things during the first half of the season, but in a sign of strength we rose above them,” he said.
“We will have to sharpen all these things up and keep learning, but it was good to see the boys respond with the same attitude and intent because sides will be coming harder at us.” South Gambier has an away trip to Millicent’s McLaughlin Park in what could be its toughest battle of 2021 so far, while the venue for the North Gambier v Casterton Sandford game was not revealed at the time of print.