Saints turn up heat as top-two teams put on show

There is a new team on top of the ladder after Millicent achieved the biggest current challenge in Western Border football on Saturday – beating South Gambier.

Anticipation was high around Blue Lake Sports Park where the two titans of the competition clashed and the Saints came to play.

Despite the previously undefeated Demons getting a fast start, Millicent marched all over the hosts to complete a 79-47 win with the young talent leading from the front once again.

It was a formidable win which reminded the world why the Saints will not give up their flag without a fight.

On a cold Saturday afternoon, the heat was turned up by the action on the field with the top two teams coming together for a titanic battle which brought local fans and even SANFL umpires to Blue Lake Sports Park.

The Demons held the high ground after winning the grand final rematch and they looked to be up for the big game by kicking the first two goals.

Even when the returning Tom Hutchesson got his hands on the ball, he was outdone by a superb chase-down tackle by Alex Harkness and Millicent had to respond.

But a sharp set shot from Frazer Bradley and cheeky dribble from Dylan Tincknell levelled the scores and got Millicent back in the game.

Hutchesson also started to make up for lost time by dominating the play, dancing around opponents and scoring a goal from the pocket.

The Saints’ fast finish to the first term netted a small lead into the break, but they were soon forced to defend it without Hutchesson, who played no further part due to another suspected hamstring injury.

With coach Clint Gallio also still on the sidelines, his young unit had to dig deep again which is what it did.

A mix of blustery conditions and Millicent’s strong presence around the ball forced South into mistakes creating defensive 50 turnovers and some breathing space on the scoreboard.

After dictating a low-scoring quarter the Saints were in control by half time leading by 20 points.

With young guns Harkness and returning Glenelg player Liam Delaney battling away, the hosts were able to keep themselves interested during a closely contested third term.

But despite the best efforts of South, it could only trim two points off Millicent’s lead as Zac McGuinness fought hard against opposition coach Brayden Kain, while Brodie Foster also had injury concerns and finished the game in the tracksuit.

Another star Demon whose impact was limited by outside factors was Taylor Saffin, who received a yellow card following a head-high bump on McGuinness, while Jake Tentye suffered a horrific leg injury.

Although South remained in the hunt being three goals down at the final break, with 17 men, Millicent ensured its advantage was never under threat.

Kalan Shanks showed lots of poise, while the marking abilities of Frazer Bradley and Werchon frustrated the home crowd.

Enjoying the fine efforts of their younger teammates, Dylan Bromley and Jacob Carger flourished kicking five goals between them to boost the winning margin out to 32 points in fine style.

Gallio was wrapped to get one over their closest rival with immense pressure on the ball carrier a big factor in the win which sends the Saints to the top of the ladder.

“It was probably our first four-quarter effort and we sort of controlled the game even through South kept coming, but we showed enough maturity to hold on,” he said.

“Both teams had changes from round 1, but one area where we got beaten then was the inability to put pressure on the ball which allowed them to score lots of goals.

“But our pressure around the footy on Saturday caused turnovers and allowed us to capitalise forward.

“It was our most complete performance and we will keep trying to improve each week.”

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