Saints hold off charging Cats

Millicent continued its winning streak in the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League, but only just after surviving a late assault by Casterton Sandford in an unexpected nailbiter at McLaughlin Park.

The Saints had controlled the first three terms and few expected them to be challenged in the final quarter with a 22-point lead heading into the final stanza of a low-scoring game.

The Cats had only scored one goal in the entire first half and increased that total to three by the final break, while Millicent captain Jacob Carger had scored the same amount off his own boot.

However, the Victorians found something special in the tank and mounted a case for victory to give the home crowd the fright of their lives.

After controlling the play with hard tackles and clean kicks across the start of the fourth term, Casterton Sandford came within a kick of glory when Billy Galpin calmly completed a set shot from around 30 metres out.

Suddenly with nine minutes to go, only four points separated first and fifth on the ladder and it was game on.

With tension everywhere, both sides struggled to gain an advantage as it became a gutsy and physical contested battle for supremacy.

The Cats had their chance when Matt Killey took a strong contested mark, but he could not find the big sticks, while the hosts also did not put away their chances.

Casterton Sandford’s last push was denied by Carger, who kicked the ball to space and the final siren sounded seconds later.

It confirmed an ugly four-point win for the Saints and was welcome relief for coach Clint Gallio, who was battling on the sidelines.

“It was pretty nerve-racking and frustrating sitting on the bench, especially when you know you cannot make much of an impact,” he said.

“I think we got super lucky in the end because if there were another three to five minutes we could have lost.

“Casterton brought the intensity in the last and we could not match it for a number of reasons.

“It was not pretty and we did not play great football, but we held on.”

The early stages were a different story with Millicent on track to collect to a comfortable victory as expected, leading 39-11 at the main break.

Despite controlling possession in perfect weather conditions, the Saints were never able to find top gear and kick the Cats completely out of the game.

With some senior members still on the sidelines and some young talent in Adelaide, experienced heads such as Carger and Dylan Tincknell stepped up to get the job done.

“I was happy with our first half, but it was one of those days where there were many not-quites,” Gallio said.

“Jacob was super with his four-quarter performance and the backline stood up when they needed to.

“We had some quality players out, so it’s pleasing to know we can battle hard and still win.”

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