If there was anyone doubting South Gambier’s return to form, the performance by Brayden Kain’s men on the biggest occasion of the Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League home and away season provided the undeniable truth.
After the moving Anzac Day ceremonies taking place in front of a big crowd at Blue Lake Sports Park, it was about the Demons as they smashed the reigning premiers by 94 points.
Despite conceding the opening goal to North Gambier, South stamped its authority for the remainder of the contest and a 44-point final term created a fitting conclusion to the dream day.
Having highlighted the clash during preseason, South coach Brayden Kain admitted he “still gets goosebumps thinking about the winning margin” and said the display shows his side’s intent.
“As a first-year coach I put a challenge to myself to put in a lot of thought and stress towards the Anzac Day game because North has been the benchmark and we have not won one of these games for a while,” he said.
“I was worried we were going to have a negative mindset, so it was a relief knowing the work I had been putting in and it shows we are on the right track. “It was a massive honour to be part of Anzac Day and to get the win was the cherry on top.”
Despite the blow-out margin, Kain believed his men were never in control as North fought hard all day. During the early stages, it was clear there were no easy possessions to be made and when a long bomb from Nick McInerney found the chest of Sam Stafford, fans settled in for a tight contest.
However, that was all the joy the Tigers would taste as the Demons’ forwards flexed their muscles. Kym Eagleson started the tidal wave with the first of his six majors, while the likes of Brodie Foster and Kain also found some form.
It did not take long for Jack Casey to make an impact from centre half forward and he tormented the Tigers with his big frame until the final siren.
A torn guernsey did not deter Scott Enderl from finding plenty of the ball around the centre square as South pulled seven goals clear before the main break.
The tenacity of North co-captains Nick McInerney and Brad Stafford stemmed the flow slightly, but by three-quarter time the result was sealed with the Demons leading by 56 points.
But South had one more trick to impress its home fans and the last quarter became a procession. The Demons moved the ball forward with ease by utilised their foot skills to perfection.
The home team flew past triple figures by two Jack Tentye goals within a minute, while Kain got involved by taking a high mark and slotting a long-range goal within one motion.
The South coach believed the major difference between the teams was his side’s attention to detail. “Coming into the week I asked the boys to be better for longer at doing the simple things like getting first to the ball with your head over it, using the first give, shepherds, crumbing the packs, laying multiple tackles and being really vocal,” Kain said.
“I felt if we did those things more than the opposition it was going to be enough and at no point we allowed them to get into their groove.”
With so many top performers, experts had a tough call deciding the recipient of the prestigious Tony Casadio Medal named after the great former Mount Gambier man who fought in the Vietnam War. In the end Casey claimed the award after an unstoppable performance on the 50-metre arc.
With three wins on the bounce, the Demons charge into round 4 sky high, but their biggest test awaits this weekend.
South and East Gambier are both undefeated and will fight for the ladder lead, while the wounded Tigers must pick themselves up and travel to McLaughlin Park to face a confident Millicent.