North Gambier continued its strong form since the mid-season break with a comprehensive victory over Casterton Sandford on Saturday.
Despite a few concerns the border situation, the round 11 fixture went ahead at Vansittart Park and the Tigers revelled in their natural habitat to win by over 68 points.
However, it was not a completely rosy afternoon for the hosts with the Victorians fighting hard throughout the first half.
The Cats were able to compete in the greasy conditions and produced more scoring shots than North in the first term.
But the visitors could not take all their opportunities and trailed by 14 points at the first break before they found their range in the second term.
North co-captain Brad Stafford said his team mates hoped to set the tone early, but they could not shake off a spirited Casterton Sandford in the opening stages.
“We put an emphasis on getting it done early, but the Cats came out very competitively in the first half,” he said.
“I think they were a little bit disappointed with how they played us last time, so they came out strong and had a surge with Justin Carlin and their inside competitors in the middle.
“It was quite a contested game and we did not feel like we were able to get away until later in the game.” The likes of Gabe Parsons, Dylan Cleary and Dylan Ayton led the Cats’ counter-attack and at half time it was game on with just 13 points the difference.
But the rain arrived at the main break and so did the Tigers when play resumed.
Casterton Sandford was restricted to just two goals for the remainder of the game, while the home side ran riot.
Justin McConnell was the major reason behind North’s explosion on the scoreboard with five goals, while the versatility of youngsters Henry Gould and Toby de Wit was there for all to see.
The second half was all about the Tigers when they scored 71 points to 16 to seal the premiership points.
Stafford said the damage was done in the centre square.
“We had to use the ball well to get through their press and be in the clear, but as the game went on we were able to control it a lot more.” After starting the second half of the season with two strong wins, the Tigers face their archrival East Gambier this weekend.
North is yet to overcome the Bulldogs in 2021 and Stafford said his side knows where to improve, while Sam Stafford will return from a finger injury.
“We have played two poor games against East, so we want to rectify that,” he said.
“We need to tighten up more defensively because they have some really good users across half back and play to the best of our ability.”