Tigers trample Cats hopes

Casterton Sandford’s hopes of making finals in what could be its last ever Western Border Football League campaign are effectively over after it was trampled by North Gambier in a do or die clash at Vansittart Park on Saturday.

With West Gambier safe, the Tigers and Cats were left to duke it out for fourth spot and the result of the fight was going to be reflected on the scoreboard.

With so much on the line, there was a finals-like atmosphere at the picturesque ground as both hopefuls went for it.

It was goal-for-goal football in the first term as Matt Killey and Diarmid Cleary matched the intensity of their yellow and black rivals Nick McInerney and Ciaran Buckley.

Despite kicking with the wind, the Cats could not take the lead and the Tigers pounced.

North’s four-point lead at quarter time exploded to 26 points by the main break and suddenly the Victorian’s season was in trouble.

The hosts broke the game open by taking full advantage of the breeze blowing towards the bowls club end.

McInerney was on fire in the middle, forcing North forward, plus making an impact on the scoreboard alongside main target Sam Stafford.

The Tigers moved forward fluently when in possession and when they were not they applied enough pressure to force the Cats into mistakes.

Even when Casterton Sandford was able to get its hands on the Sherrin, it could not find any options going forward as a North backline fronted by Brett Kennedy, Jake Schutz and Jordan Hollitt zoned well and cut off all avenues.

After the game-breaking second term, the Tigers held the ascendancy and even had the better of the third quarter kicking against the wind despite the best efforts of Charlie Jarrad and Alastair McCrae.

North’s gutsy efforts ensured it claimed arguably its biggest game of the season by a huge 53-point margin.

Enjoying first use from ruckman Mitch Kelton, McInerney led the assault by taking charge in the middle, plus kicking a hat-trick of goals, while Stafford joined in the fun booting four.

Tigers’ coach Ben Hardy said the performance was easily one of the best of the year and shows what his group is capable of.

“I think it was one of our best and most consistent games of the year,” he said.

“Throughout the season there have been times where our results have not reflected where we are at as a group.

“So it was great to see it all come together with a solid four quarters of football.

“With Matthew Chapman playing his 400th senior game, the day had significant importance from the start and our goal was simple footy.

“We had great ball control and our pressure never faded which gave us the momentum we needed.

“Every time Casterton found a goal, we were able to make a quick reply.

“Our lockdown defenders Hollitt, Buckley, Schutz and Kennedy were fantastic, while the forward line was the strongest it has been all year.

“Each player had a role and comfortably delivered.”

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