The North Gambier v Millicent fixture was the heavyweight battle of the ninth round of the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League season and it appeared to live up to the hype.
Although the winter chill hit the Limestone Coast the heat was brought to Vansittart Park with the Tigers and Saints split by only single figures across the first two quarters.
It was a big game for both sides with North determined to show it can be a big force against the top teams, while the Saints hoped to keep their momentum marching.
Debut A Grade field umpire Zac Shanks completed the first ball up, but that was immediately followed by a stoppage which set the tone for the slow scoring first half.
The Tigers did manage to find some space and made it count through Sam Stafford and Brodie Allen, who slotted some impressive long-range set shots.
This put the Saints on the back foot early, but they did not stop fighting and a team effort major by captain Jacob Carger helped them stay in touch.
Like usual Nick McInerney and Brett Shepherdson showed plenty of guts and to hit the packs hard in the contested game.
Even when North did manage to get the ball forward, Kade and Frazer Bradley were there waiting to intercept and rebound the ball back.
Millicent’s pressure started to get under the Tigers’ skin and a couple of mistakes such as free kicks and turnovers opened the door for the visitors.
Suddenly the Saints were moving fast with lots of confidence, speed and precision and quite often at the end of the line was Dylan Bromley, who caused headaches for the hosts’ defenders by kicking three majors.
Bromley’s highpoint was a soccer goal after a Hamish Nitschke intercept set up a one-on-one sprint between the former and his defender Jordan Hollitt.
In a devastating period during the third term, Millicent’s lead grew from one goal to four, which was a mighty margin in the slippery conditions.
The Tigers did manage to claw back some momentum through the trusty leg of Justin McConnell in a tighter final term, but the Saints were never going to be stopped.
Unlike the last two weeks there were no late scares as Millicent sealed a formidable 33-point win and coach Clint Gallio was relieved not have a nail-biter as his men gradually improved their delivery inside 50.
“It was really nice after a nerve-wracking game last week,” he said.
“We had plenty of scoring opportunities and controlled the footy well, but that last possession going forward needed a little bit of tidying up in the first half.
“We then pressured the footy well which was back after being down for a few weeks.
“The perceived pressure meant when we turned it over we capitalized more in the second half by creating space out the back with an open forward 50.
“It was really pleasing to get a good score on the board in conditions that were not the best.”