Saints spoil Cats’day

Casterton Sandford’s special day at Island Park was  tarnished slightly on the scoreboard after Millicent stamped its authority with a 50-point victory on Saturday.

The homecoming of former Geelong Cat Max Rooke plus the Western Border Football League  debuts of his AFL premiership team-mates Brad Ottens and Mathew  Stokes could not even stop the Saints from continuing their march towards finals.

The big names gave the Victorians a big boost early as they wowed the huge home crowd by kicking the opening goal courtesy of Adam Mckinnon.

But soon Millicent tightened its grip on proceedings and controlled the remainder of the first term.

The next eight scoring shots all occurred at the visitors end with Caleb Williams making his presence felt up forward on his return from a collarbone injury.

The Saints’ ability to move the ball through the corridor with pace and accuracy proved damaging as the lead grew quickly.

Team leaders Clint Gallio and Jacob Carger were instrumental  behind the play with the playing coach even pushing back to rebound the ball swiftly out of defensive 50.

Another man making a comeback was Lyndon Smith, who showed little signs of rust and his tackling was a feature in the game.

Despite Dylan Ayton managed to restrict Gene Robinson to just three goals, Millicent opened up a commanding lead by half time with Williams stepping up to kick a bag of five.

Torrential rain had set in when the second half commenced and scoring became increasingly difficult.

The muddy conditions stagnated the Saints and Casterton Sandford was able to fight goal for goal in the final term.

 In terms of the AFL stars, Stokes shone the brightest playing on the  ball for the entire afternoon and collecting plenty of possessions, while  he provided lots of encouragement when he did not have the Sherrin in his hands.

The former Geelong and Essendon forward had lost none of his pace and gave the packed house a big cheer when he nailed a set shot in the closing stages.

Ottens enjoyed long periods in the ruck and often gave his teammates first use, but was kept on his toes by Millicent youngster Finn Grimes.

Casterton junior Rooke spent time at both ends of the ground and offered plenty of advice to the younger Cats on and off the field.

 However, his return was cut short in the second half due to a hamstring injury.

Unsure of what Casterton Sandford would deliver with 580 AFL games on its team sheet, Gallio  admitted his players felt a few butterflies walking out, but was pleased  with how they responded on the field.

“It is super pleasing because the game was an unknown going into it,” he said.

“Taking to the boys in the clubrooms beforehand you could feel a  few nerves, but I think once we got going things settled.

“We just had to weather the crowds excitement and control the football with the fitness torun over them.

“It was just a great opportunity for the whole team to play against blokes of that caliber.

“I thought Finn battled hard against Brad and two other ruckman rotating against him and it was cool to watch Stokes get some touches in the middle.

“We had the chance to talk to all three after the game which was pleasing, so well done to Casterton for putting a great weekend together.” As the Saints enjoy a week off, there is no rest for the Cats, who have another home game against East Gambier after the round 8 contest was postponed in May.

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