Tigers tame Roos in entertaining Western Border grand final rematch

Fans were forced to wait a little longer for the rematch of the 2019 Bendigo Bank

Western Border grand final, but the round 5 clash did not disappoint at Vansittart Park on Saturday.

The momentum shifted across the opening three quarters as North and West Gambier engaged in a tense tug of war.

The high-class game raced off to an entertaining start with goals coming thick and fast as the Roos gained an early advantage.

But the Tigers hit back in the second term to edge ahead by a single point moments before the main break.

The lead changed hands once again in the third quarter and with a history of finishing off games well, West was in the box seat at the final break leading by 17 points after Nathan Taylor unloaded from outside 50 on the brink of the siren. 

However, North defied all suggestions and  went on a roll to steal the game from the daz- zled Roos. 

As the Tigers stormed home kicking six match-winning goals, the visitors could only manage two points as Jake Schutz loomed large in the backline rebounding the ball. 

With the game on the line, Sam Stafford  (four goals) and Justin McConnell (five) con- verting every opportunity with the former  pinpoint from set shots, while the latter even turned back the clock by sold some candy before kicking truly. 

Young gun Austin Kitschke and Brett  Shepherdson also enjoyed fine afternoons. West was led by the skills of Lawrey Bradley- Brown in the middle and in front of goal,  while Todd Lewis, Reece Cowling and Todd Mcpartlan also showed strong form. 

Considering the Roos were yet to lose a final quarter in 2021, North co-captain Nick McInerney said it was a big effort to snatch the win. 

“It was really good to run out the game because we knew West was a fast-finishing side, so when we did have that deficit we thought we had to do something special,” he said. 

“We injected Austin in the middle and a lot of our entries into the forward line were resulting in scores so we were just more efficient using the ball going forward.” The Tigers have endured an up-and-down season with disappointing defeats to South  and East Gambier, but have recovered to go 2-0 since then and sit in a three-way fight for second on the ladder. 

McInerney said the side’s fighting qualities have been demonstrated in the first batch of games in 2021. 

“South is obviously looking like the benchmark, but any team can beat anyone on their day, so everyone needs to be on their game,” he said. 

“Bouncing back from a poor performance against South with a couple of good wins against quality opposition has been really pleasing, but not only that we have been behind in those games so showing character to overcome adversity is great for a young side.” North heads across the border this weekend and should be confident of another win over Casterton Sandford, while West hopes to settle a score with the Bulldogs.

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