Tigers fall just short of drought-breaking win over Demons

North Gambier has not beaten South Gambier for almost two years and was on the verge of breaking the streak at Blue Lake Sports Park on Saturday, only to fall just short.

The Tigers gave it everything and even led at half time, but they failed to find the big sticks for the remainder of the heavy weight clash of the eighth round of the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League season.

With the rain clouds coming both teams were keen to make some early inroads on the scoreboard and the Tigers brought the heat.

Sam Stafford and Toby de Wit nailed two set shots from almost identical positions to give North the upper hand.

Although the Demons were able to kick three majors themselves, they had to work much harder for possession with Nick McInerney and Dale Bachmann leading the charge.

In what was becoming a set shot shoot-out, North’s position was only strengthened in the second term.

The likes of Sam Stafford and Justin McConnell could not miss, while a cheeky soccer from Nick Blachut increased the lead to nine points just before the main break.

However, the beginning of the second half also marked the arrival of mother nature and the complexion of the game changed just as much as the conditions.

Suddenly it was the red and white jumpers getting to the ball first and winning the tough possessions as the mentally strong Demons believed the rain was a help rather than a hindrance.

Although South had managed to snatch the lead before three-quarter time and take all the momentum into the final term following some sharp snaps by Emerson Marks and Patrick Glynn, the game was far from over.

McInerney was still crashing into packs and Jake Schutz was still applying intense defensive pressure, while one straight kick would put the Tigers back into the ascendancy.

However, that goal never arrived and after a long period of tense and scrappy football, the South faithful could release their emotions when a pair of promising youngsters delivered in a big moment.

A brilliant passage of play between Noah and Mitch Sims where the pair opened up the fat side of the ground with long kicks and gut running sent the Demons into the driving seat and there was no stopping them from there.

South Gambier ground out a 10-point win and coach Brayden Kain said he was thrilled to see the group respond in the tough conditions after being soundly beaten.

“We really struggled in the first half and credit to North, they brought the heat and put us on the back foot,” he said.

“Although we felt like we had plenty of the ball, it took us a while to impact the scoreboard because North would transition really well and we just lacked a little bit of effort.

“But after half time we had a big attitude adjustment and brought the energy to get first to the ball in the wet conditions.

“We pushed up a little bit higher up the ground which made it harder for North to score and Mason Hein in his first game back from injury did an incredible job taking some big pack marks as the last line of defence.

“That slingshot us with some rebound fifties from James Paprotny then Mitch Sims and Mitch Harrold ran into space.

“It was a good test for us and a win we can put in the memory bank.”

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