Millicent’s Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League premiership defence is officially under way after it knocked over Casterton Sandford away from home on Saturday.
Despite the contrasting fortunes experienced by both sides last year, the Cats entered the contest with the winning form after a breakthrough triumph at West, while South Gambier rained on the Saints’ parade.
However, any optimism circulating around the Cattery was extinguished instantly as Millicent showed why it is one of the premiership favourites.
Even after a Billy Galpin snap put the hosts on the board first, the Saints trampled over the Victorians booting five straight goals to enter the opening break well on top.
Frazer Bradley made his presence felt registering a couple of marks and goals in the scoreboard pocket, while Dylan Bromley kicked off a very productive day as the visitors opened the game up on the outside.
Down by 27 points at the first change, Casterton Sandford had some work to do and managed to boot a couple of goals against the tide to get the car horns going again.
But the Saints did not slow their march with Bromley having a half of football to remember increasing his tally to four goals.
Victorians were also reminded of the class of Tom Hutchesson, who delivered some pinpoint passes from the centre and completed a hat-trick of majors.
Some youngsters also got into the act with Josh Werchon having a breakout game, while Noah Lang and Kalan Shanks showcase their talent as well.
Through Galpin in the middle, Matt Killey on the half forward line and Hamish McCrae once again performing in the ruck, the Cats were able to have their moments led by a productive second term.
However, Millicent was always a class above throughout and cruised to a convincing 78-point win.
It was an impressive effort considering the team missed its inspirational playing coach Clint Gallio, who was busy welcoming his first child into the world.
But with many experienced A Graders on the list such as Tom Renzi, the Saints had little cause for concern.
The win was always expected to arrive at some point, but it will be a relief to some Saints fans after the team’s previous attempt at title defence went so wrong the team song was never sung.
This year the maiden win only too two weeks and Renzi said it was an important moment for the group.
“It does not matter who you play, you need to start playing the footy the team and the club wants and we did that on the weekend which was good,” he said.
“We knew Casterton liked to bring a lot of pressure and heat on the football and it was a hard game, but our strength is the outside run which went really well in the first quarter especially.
“Any team without Clint will feel a loss, but we have a young group coming through plus many experienced players and everyone stepped up and played their role.”