Tigers topple Bulldogs side

North Gambier made a statement to arch-rival East Gambier after a crushing second half delivered a comprehensive win at Vansittart Park in round 6 of Western Border football.

Despite the Tigers flying home with a wet sail to win by 42 points, the early stages were a completely different story.

The Bulldogs took the fight to the home side from the first bounce where Nicolas Brown and Jayden Eldridge went crunch and their clash set the tone as the first two quarters became a tense slugfest.

The Tigers got away to an early lead kicking two straight goals with the last manufactured by Jake Schutz‘s intercept mark and long bomb from defensive 50.

But strong teamwork between Connor Barry and Matt Scanlon ensured East remained in touch at quarter time even though the visitors threw away some chances in front of goal.

The battle for possession remained heated in the second term with crunching tackles a regular sight as both teams kicked three goals to stay just one kick away from each other on the scoreboard.

At this point North Gambier coach Ben Hardy was happy to see his team in front after they adjusted to East’s style in a scrappy start.

“The first half was a bit of a dog scrap,” he said.

“They really wanted the stoppage and contested style of game and had one player behind the ball, so the way they set it up was impressive.

“The conditions did not help with a strong breeze not favouring a particular end, but I was really pleased with the way we matched it with them.”

Even though the Dogs were only six points down after throwing everything at the hosts during the first half, they could not match the intensity when play resumed.

The Tigers strolled clear from the visitors and the tone was set by Hamish Telford, who sold some candy before slotting the first major of the run home.

Suddenly North had goal-scoring options appear everywhere with 11 individuals finding the big sticks to kick East out of the game and take the sting out of the rivalry.

Many of these chances were set up by Jordan Hollit and Dale Bachmann, who not only took countless intercept marks down back, but also pressed forward.

The likes of Dylan Munn, Justin McConnell and Sam Stafford also showed their class around the ground, while at the other end of the spectrum, Under 16 Deacon Ilsley kicked a sausage roll on senior debut.

The Tigers did it with a leg in the air winning by 42 points, while East had to settle for just the single goal in the second half as Nick Lock, James Bryne and Eldridge fought hard until the end.

Hardy said the match-winning run was made possible by his team being sharper and cleaner to break through East’s aggression.

“At half time I felt like we just needed to find two or three percent in certain areas we could open up the game,” he said.

“The boys responded, adjusted to the game and focused on the fundamentals to open the game up.

“We just got better as the game went on.”

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