West Gambier lifts to take up fight for third spot

West Gambier has made its intentions clear in the battle for third in the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League after a final quarter for the ages.

The Roos travelled to Vansittart Park to meet arch-rival North Gambier and showcased some of their most scintillating football of the season.

With the difference between the teams on the ladder tightening and memories of the previous clash at this venue strong, anticipation was high and it did not disappoint.

Despite the scoreboard moving slowly the fight for supremacy was fierce with little separating the two sides.

Neither team could break free as the game was played between the 50 metre arcs until three-quarter time, with the difference on the scoreboard rarely breaking into double figures.

Some gritty work handed West a seven-point lead at the first break and the side tried to continue its momentum through the second term.

The Roos played the better football, enjoying more possession with most of the play taking place in their half as the hosts started to get frustrated.

But West struggled to turn its pressure into anything meaningful as the fighting efforts of long-sleeved defenders Jake Schutz and Justin McConnell kept rebounding the ball.

The Roos’ appeared set to walk into the main break with their seven-point lead intact, but in-form Tiger Brett Kennedy had other ideas.

The ruckman put boot to ball well outside 50 and to the surprise of everyone at the ground, it bounced past the defenders and rolled through an unoccupied goal square to give his side a boost moments before the half-time siren.

The major which was met with a collective gasp, inspired the hosts to keep the pressure on during a goal-for-goal third term where Sam Stafford showed signs of his purple patch.

Despite leading at the final break, the game was still up for grabs with just four points splitting the rivals and West Gambier assistant coach Nathan Lewis said he was worried they kept the door open for the Tigers.

“We felt like we should have had a better buffer at half time and three-quarter time,” he said.

“Mistakes cost us goals and three out of their first four goals came off the back of turnovers.

“It was played within the arches because we did not lock it in inside 50 enough and were unable to capitalise.”

However, with the game to be won, the Roos hit top gear in the final term.

The Tigers had no answers as Lawry Bradley-Brown killed it in the middle and kicked a treble of goals alongside Nathan Taylor and Jordan Williams.

After West had deployed the afterburners, it sung the song with pride after winning by a comfortable 36 points and Lewis hopes the devastating passage can be a blueprint for the future.

“We gave it to the guys to make a statement and some guys put the foot down,” he said.

“Lawry led the way saying ‘we are not losing this’ and was in everything with direct involvement in a lot of our scoring.

“Our backline was super solid all day and any 50-50 contest they did not lose.

“We got everything going our way in the last and every player chipped in.

“It is a result we can build on.”

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