The South Gambier juggernaut has suffered its first setback of the 2021 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League on Saturday when Millicent pulled off the impossible.
In cold and miserable conditions, the Saints brought the heat to McLaughlin Park and suffocated the Demons with intense pressure.
The ladder leaders were denied any breathing space with a Millicent body everywhere the visitors went and unusually South had no answer for the home side’s physical and effective tackling game.
The end result told a confronting story and put the league on notice with the Saints winning by 78 points with a whopping 18 more scoring shots.
Millicent coach Clint Gallio said it was one of the most satisfying wins of his career.
“Obviously they are the team everyone is chasing being undefeated, so it was really nice to get the win over them,” he said.
“Credit goes to the boys, they stuck with what we wanted to do and played a four-quarter game.
“Our pressure was the stand-out, there were times when we were outnumbered at the contest, but we stuck at it and pressured them into mistakes.” The Saints’ march to the breakthrough win kicked off with a first-quarter onslaught.
As a by-product of Millicent winning the contested ball in the middle, its forwards were given plenty of opportunities to score and they did just that to blow the visitors away.
Dion Stratford was given the difficult task of manning Gene Robinson and he could not stop the goal-kicking machine from plotting the path to another five majors.
Robinson was not alone with Harry Tunkin and Sam Willis also bombarding the goals and by quarter time the Saints were already out of reach leading by 39 points.
With the mud and rain set in, scoring slowed in the second term as bodies swarmed the Sherrin and got a little too close for comfort during the occasional spotfire.
The eight-minute stalemate was broken by the clean hands of Willis, while South could not find an avenue back in the game and just crept into double figures before the main break.
Robinson showcased his skills once again beating his opponents in contests and scoring a couple of quick goals as the Saints remained the cleaner side.
Ethan Chuck fought hard for the desperate Demons, who tried something different in the final term kicking long from defensive 50 and it worked briefly, but they could not stop the struggle of scoring more than one major each quarter.
All the scoring remained at Millicent’s end and Gallio finished the perfect day in style, breaking free from the pack to kick an on-the-run goal.
A major positive for the Saints was the continual development of their youngsters, who showed no fear amid the chaos on Saturday’s battlefield.
All six best players named from the club were 21 or younger led by ruckman Finn Grimes, while numerous others were not afraid to win the ball by scrapping hard and getting their knees dirty.
The significant win puts Millicent in the perfect position to take on a Casterton Sandford side bolstered by three Geelong AFL greats.
But Gallio said he was confident his team could tackle the prospect of fighting one-on-one with high-calibre premiership players Max Rooke, Mathew Stokes and Brad Ottens.
“Around 580 AFL games and three premierships are pretty handy additions to your team, but it’s another challenge for our young side and we are looking forward to it,” he said.
“I have had the chance to play with some AFL players in Darwin and it is pretty cool.
“It will be a great spectacle and there is a buzz around the group, but we will prepare the same.”