NORTH GAMBIER v EAST GAMBIER
THE clash of the Blue Lake city heavyweights takes place tomorrow at Vansittart Park when North Gambier hosts East Gambier in Round 2 of the Limestone Coast Football League competition.
Both sides come off a win in the opening round of the newly-formed competition as sides look to cement a place at the pointy end of the ladder.
With just six rounds of play for the season before finals, a top-two position is the ideal scenario for those sides wanting to contest the grand final, which ensures each round is fought out right to the final siren.
A quick look back at the opening round shows both sides are up for the challenge, can pile on the goals and have a solid defensive pack.
North approached the season with a mostly-unchanged side from 2019, confident in its list.
That decision was validated last week when the Tigers faced South Gambier out at Blue Lake Sports Park.
The Demons boasted several new faces in their lineup and took the game right up to the Tigers from the first bounce.
While the wind favoured North in the opening term and the Tigers kicked six major scores, the Demons were able to bang on two of their own and in the second quarter pushed for the lead.
In fact at the long break South led to the tune of eight points and threatened to claim a win with the advantage of the wind to come in the final stanza.
However, the Tigers had other ideas and piled on another six goals in the third term, then held the Demons to just one behind in the final quarter with some stifling defensive play.
Coach Justin McConnell led on the scoreboard with four goals and Sam Stafford contributed three, while several other Tigers added either multiples or singles.
The result showed strength at both ends of the ground.
Despite South enjoying the advantage of the stiff breeze in the final quarter, the North defence held strong.
East did unveil a few new faces and returning players to its list for 2020, notably Kevin Thomson who was back from Port MacDonnell and kicked off from where he left.
For the Bulldogs it was a matter of resisting a first-quarter barrage from Kybybolite before unleashing at McDonald Park.
Kyby could only manage two major scores in the opening term with the wind, but much of that was due to some strong defence from the Bulldogs.
The visitors had the vast majority of inside-50s in the opening term, but could not convert on the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs were defiant and while they did not bother the scorers in the first quarter, when the chance came to use the wind in the second they cut loose.
They banged on six major scores and six minors, while holding Kyby scoreless and the game was quickly slipping from the visitors’ grasp.
Kyby did hit back in the third, but East also found the scoreboard and retained a handy lead.
Heading into the final stanza it was a matter of how much by, rather than if East would win.
Thomson and Mark Rumbelow kicked four and three goals respectively, while there was plenty of movement through the middle of the ground, much of that off the foot and hands of coach Matt Willson.
New faces such as Keenan Jacobs and Jake Harrap slotted into the lineup well, while the defensive line held strong, through the likes of Nick lock, John Forster and Jayden Eldridge.
In fact Willson said he was pleased with his whole back six and they would need to stand up tomorrow if the Bulldogs were to be a chance to roll the reigning Western Border premiers.
In recent seasons North has been a slick ball mover through the middle of the ground and with the reigning leading goal kicker up forward in McConnell, along with several others, there is no shortage of targets inside 50.
East showed last week it was capable of spreading the ball quickly to transfer play from one side of the ground to the other and will need those skills to be on target to catch the Tigers on the hop.
East currently holds second spot on the ladder, just ahead of North in third.
With first and fourth, plus second and third playing off for a grand final berth, a top-two position is paramount after the six home-and-away rounds are completed.
That places extra pressure on both sides to secure the win.
Should the wind hold off tomorrow fans could be treated to an entertaining game of senior football, along with some junior matches early in the day.
North should hold on for the win on its home deck, but East will not let that come easily.
KALANGADOO v SOUTH GAMBIER
IT will be a must-win scenario in the eyes of both Kalangadoo and South Gambier when the two sides clash in round two of the Limestone Coast Football League.
Neither the Demons or the Magpies managed to win their opening round games in the shortened format of the inaugural competition to start the six-round season and as a result a 0-2 win/loss record will be difficult to bounce back from, but it will be the reality for one of these teams.
The result could go either way and despite the round one results, there were positives to take from both encounters.
A second-half lapse cost South against Western Border reigning premier North Gambier, but a more cohesive unit can be expected tomorrow as a handful of outside players come into the side.
Recruits Brodie Foster, Patrick Mitchell and Mark Smith all came from Mid South East clubs – among others already at South – which will help familiarise the team with Kalangadoo’s game style.
The trio were all month the best players with fellow 2020 recruit Patrick Glynn and will be aiming to replicate their round one performances.
Demons stalwart Brett O’Neil led the way in the clash with the Tigers and his efforts around the ground will again be pivotal.
The likes of Brayden Kain, Foster and even young talent Todd Reid will be looked to in front of goals.
At the other end of the ground, full-back Taylor Saffin will be crucial to limiting Kalangadoo’s impact in front of goal.
It is hard to gauge much from the first game of a season but, on paper, South should be a stronger team this year as quality experience has been added to the talented young roster.
The Magpies will do well to not take the youth of the side for granted.
The Demons caught several teams off guard in the 2019 WBFL season, particularly towards the back end of the year.
Kalangadoo received a rude awakening at the hands of a polished Mundulla last round and despite a solid show from the Mid South East reigning premiers, the Moots were just too strong.
Former East Gambier player Tom Williams and Penola COVID recruit Brad Bryant made an immediate impact in the side and will be ones to watch again tomorrow, while Sam McManus put in a best-on-ground performance.
Player numbers have been limited both due to the border closure and injuries, but speaking to Kalangadoo fill-in coach Harry Peacock this week, a few more players are expected to top up the ranks this week.
As such, a hard-fought battle should unfold in probably the most intriguing match of the round.
Ben Mules was the key target in the forward line for Kalangadoo on Saturday and managed two goals for his side, but the Magpies will hope for better than their five-goal effort from round one.
The home-ground advantage will play to their favour, while a pro-Kalangadoo crowd can be expected, as the Magpies’ juniors play at the same venue earlier in the day.
While a certain amount of unknown will surround every LCFL match, this clash will likely be an indicator to which team will complete the top four at the end of the six rounds, with East, North and Mundulla all looking the goods after the season opener.
KYBYBOLITE v MUNDULLA
THE Limestone Coast Football League boasts a clash of the two Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara teams tomorrow at Kybybolite, with the hosts up against Mundulla.
The round two match will see the reigning Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara premier look to cement its position at the top of the ladder, after a big win over Kalangadoo in the opening round last week.
For Kyby it will be a matter of chasing its first win after it succumbed to East Gambier at McDonald Park.
Mundulla is still somewhat of an unknown, but certainly showed its colours last week.
Rather than an outright barrage, it was a consistent effort throughout the day which gave the Moots the win over the Magpies to the tune of 59 points.
Suggesting the side is an unknown is simply based on the fact Kalangadoo – the 2019 Mid South Eastern premier – has struggled for personnel due to the coronavirus border restrictions.
The Magpies lost their 2020 coach in Dylan Ayton and a couple of other players who were stranded across the border, but pushed ahead with their desire to play in the newly-formed league.
They did pick up a notable inclusion in Brad Bryant who ventured down for a game from Penola.
The wind was blowing predominantly across the ground last week, which was reflected in some inaccuracy in front of goals.
Mundulla had 27 shots on goal, with 13 successful for full points.
In contrast the Moots only gave up five major scores and three minors in the stinging victory.
Rumour has it the side is stronger than its 2019 premiership-winning roster, which should sound alarm bells to the remaining sides in the competition.
Kyby faced a touch challenge first up against East Gambier and showed some class early in the game.
They moved the ball well, but were unable to capitalise on the majority of inside-50s.
Jamie Bittner and Tom Kitschke were focal points in front of goal and will need to provide some clear leads if the Tigers are to keep pace with the rampaging Moots.
Mundulla could be an even tougher prospect than the Bulldogs were, which does not auger well for the Tigers.
The Moots would start as unbackable favourites and should win this one by a healthy margin.