IT appeared to be the South Gambier of recent seasons when the Demons hosted West Gambier in Round 4 of Western Border football on Saturday.
The wide expanses of Blue Lake Sports Park suited the Demons running game and they exploited it to perfection to claim a convincing 82-point win.
While it took half a game to shake off the determined Roos, South was in control from the outset, with Brett O’Neil at his silky best, finding possession around the ground to decimate the West offence and control the mid-field.
O’Neil was joined by the likes of Brad and Ash Bryant, with the in-form Jack Capewell popping up around the ground, finishing well in front of goals, along with Brayden Kain and Scott Fleming, providing the Demons with a focus right around the ground the young Roos could not compete with.
Even against the struggling Roos, it was a statement to the league the Demons can not be discounted despite its slow start.
With a slight breeze blowing and the sun shining, South soon went to work, registering two goals in quick succession.
Capewell began to make his presence felt early in the back half, along with Dion Stratford – who found the second goal through a long, running shot.
However, the Roos fought back with Todd Lewis combining with Jake Blackwell, ending in a Tom Zeitz major to keep West in touch.
O’Neil continued to weave his magic and it was immediately apparent he would be in for a big day, but again West found the big sticks and it was down to a one-point game.
The match remained in the balance for much of the term, with O’Neil and Brad Bryant beginning to dominate the mid-field, but by the first break the Demons held just a seven-point advantage.
Another Zeitz goal in the second term saw the Roos hit the front and threaten to take control, but South fought back, with Tom Vassallo adding a major to tie the game up.
By the long break the Demons had stretched their advantage to 12 points and from there it was all-but one-way traffic.
A further four majors in the third term looked like breaking the game open, with the hosts out by 33 points just 12 minutes in.
The Roos had their backs to the wall and simply had no answer for the running play of the Demons.
However, after 15 minutes of play West settled and the game again evened out, but there was no accounting for the Demons’ inspired final term, where South banged on nine goals and put an end to the Roos.
O’Neil, Brad Bryant, Capewell, Jake Tentye – and a list of others – all combined to ensure the Demons second win of the season would be memorable, with Fleming chipping in up forward with a couple of goals to finish the game in style.
For South coach Heath Mitchell it was a case of everything falling into place on game day, with the desired result following.
“I think for us the big focus has been our forward entry inside 50,” he said.
“All season – except probably for the game against North – all our numbers stacked up.
“We were breaking even in inside 50s, but we were very inefficient in the way we were getting inside.
“On the weekend we were much cleaner in getting our forwards the ball, rather than just kicking to a contest.”
While the game was in hand entering the final term, Mitchell said it was important his side ran it out, more from an internal confidence booster than simply to hurt West.
“It was nothing to do with the old-fashioned foot-on-the-throat go-and-get-them thing, it was more about a bit of internal belief,” he said.
“It was about us saying we believe in what we are trying to work towards.”
While Mitchell said it was an important win, the challenge now lay ahead.
“I think what is important now, as lovely as it was to take away a win, will put up two quality efforts against East Gambier and North Gambier,” he said.
“What was pleasing about the weekend was we applied a lot of what we train for on game day.
“Now the challenge will do that under significant pressure, which is what East and North will bring.”