Western Border title contenders ‘face off’

South Gambier v Millicent

After the opening segment of the 2022 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League season, two teams appear head and shoulders above the rest.

South Gambier and Millicent have proven their worth as the two runaway premiership contenders at this stage and they are primed for the next installment in their developing rivalry.

After the Demons drew first blood at McLaughlin Park, the Saints will be hoping to return the favour when they meet at Blue Lake Sports Park.

The only time the rivals met at the venue last year a goal-kicking shootout between Brayden Kain and Gene Robinson occurred where the latter scored more goals, but the former had the last laugh.

Only Kain will return and he is in ominous form having kicked six goals last week and only needs four more majors to bring up his 300-goal milestone.

With every grade from Under 14’s to A Grade undefeated on top of the ladder, South can do no wrong at the moment and has an embarrassment of riches at the selection table which makes them tough to beat.

However, the Saints will fancy their chances backing a young team which believes it can do anything.

Millicent’s department of youth has the power at the moment after a side minus Clint Gallio, Tom Hutchesson and Tom Renzi completed a major turnaround away from home over East Gambier.

A total of 17 of the 22 players were 21 and under which will cause some headaches for Gallio if he or the other experienced heads are ready to return.

No matter who runs out on Saturday afternoon, fans will be in for a treat with the players and even the umpires ready to express themselves.

Usually, the clubs call up players from Adelaide, but this time the men in green will be boosted with four SANFL umpires coming to the Blue Lake city for the big game.

The quartet has been officiating in the SANFL system for a number of years and is led by former Limestone Coast umpire Ben Thiel, who is excited for the homecoming.

North Gambier v East Gambier

Wherever they are on the ladder, North and East Gambier always put on a show and Saturday’s contest will be no different.

The Tigers hold the high ground after winning the opening round clash where conditions played a factor.

The side also burst back to life last week with a Sam Stafford six-goal haul enough to topple Casterton Sandford.

Nick McInerney has not stopped going in hard and Brett Kennedy has done good things in the ruck since his return.

The Bulldogs want to even the honours and prove they can compete with those above them.

East has played well in patches, but needs a four-quarter effort after kicking 1.6 after quarter time proved costly in the Indigenous Game.

Watchout for Jayden Eldridge, Matt Scanlon, Keenan Dwyer and Garret Ha.

Casterton Sandford v West Gambier

It will be high stakes at Island Park as both sides search for a much-needed win.

Casterton Sandford got the job done in round 1 convincingly, but is still searching for its first victory on home turf and Hamish McCrae and Diarmid Cleary are determined to do it.

It might have turned out to be a 34-point loss, but West Gambier should have been encouraged by what it produced in round 4.

The Roos pushed top team South to the edge with the help of Michael Minuzzo and Dale Robbins, but were overwhelmed after half time and will aim for a more complete performance.

Both sides will be still licking their wounds from tough defeats last week and want to rebound well.

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