EAST GAMBIER v KALANGADOO
IN a rare spectacle for the region, Friday night footy will be on show in the Blue Lake city when East Gambier hosts Kalangadoo at McDonald Park for round three of the Limestone Coast Football League tonight.
The Bulldogs enter the clash as hot favourites after an imposing start to the season, with wins over Kybybolite and reigning Western Border premier North Gambier in its two outings.
It has been the opposite scenario for tonight’s guests.
The Magpies suffered a tough loss to 2019 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara champion Mundulla in round one and last week a lapse in the fourth quarter cost them against South Gambier.
In the short six-round competition Kalangadoo finds itself in a spot of bother, as two teams are destined to miss out on finals action.
However, this season is about more than results for the club.
Stand-in coach Harry Peacock – who has taken the helm due to Dylan Ayton’s Victorian residence – said the main focus is on developing the new game plan introduced by Ayton to benefit the team moving forward.
That new system worked well for three quarters against South last week, before the Magpies fell back into old habits and allowed the Demons an opening to pull away for a 24-point win.
Tye McManus, Brad Bryant and Sam McManus have been shining lights for Kalangadoo in both rounds so far and will aim to maintain their consistency tonight.
Bryant is one of several pick ups from the Penola Football Club and his class has not gone unnoticed.
He will be a focal point again this round, while long-term leader Ben Mules will look to keep his goal streak alive.
The Magpie veteran has bagged two goals in both matches this year and Andrew Stone also found the big sticks twice on the weekend but Kalangadoo will need to up the ante against the defensive prowess of East.
A handful of skilled players have added to the wealth of talent at East this year thanks to pre-season listings and a few COVID-induced recruits.
The Bulldogs turned up the heat against the Tigers last week, even without their round one leading goal scorer Kev Thomson.
Thomson ventured back to the “Kennel” on loan from Port MacDonnell this season, along with a couple of fellow Demons, but due to previously booked social obligations the “Bay boys” were absent for the clash against the Tigers.
They can be expected to return tonight and will bolster an already strong side which will put the pressure on Kalangadoo from the outset.
Playing coach Matt Willson has been in dangerous form and has led the Bulldogs by example.
Joined by the likes of Todd Lockwood, John Forster and Jake Harrap – to name just a few – East has no shortage of in-form talent, which makes it difficult to mount a case for the Magpies.
But regardless of the result, there is sure to be some good football on show to open the round under the McDonald Park lights.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 7pm.
MUNDULLA v NORTH GAMBIER
THE excitement continues this weekend in the Limestone Coast Football League.
Round three offers a night game tonight at McDonald Park, a fixture in Mount Gambier tomorrow out at Blue Lake Sports Park, along with the clash of the two heavyweights in the competition up at Mundulla.
Dubbed the “Super League”, the unique thing about the LCFL is the chance to see premiers of their respective leagues go head-to-head.
At the end of the season one club will claim a one-off, unique premiership flag to hang proudly in its rooms, which is enough incentive to perform at the highest level in these unprecedented times.
The season opened with such a clash as Kalangadoo faced Mundulla.
Tomorrow we see another premiership hit out as North Gambier travels up to the home of the Moots it what promises to be the biggest clash of the season so far.
North will look to fly the flag for the Western Border league, while Mundulla would simply hope to continue its winning formula to keep the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara league at the pointy end of the ladder.
It is already the half way mark, with just six home-and-away fixtures set down for the new league and wins are paramount.
That is certainly the case for North, as Mundulla remains undefeated at the top of the table after a solid win over Kalangadoo in round one, followed up by a more impressive victory over Kybybolite last week.
The Moots seem untouchable, but up against the powerhouse North Gambier that could all change.
North chalked up its first win of the season in round one against a determined and reinvigorated South Gambier roster, before stumbling against an equally-bolstered East Gambier side last week at Vansittart Park.
After a tightly-contested first half, the Bulldogs opened the game up in the third term and began to run wild.
North also found some more skilful passages of play, but East outscored the Tigers by two goals in the term to set up the victory.
North does boast the leading goal kicker in the league at the moment, with the consistent coach Justin McConnell at the top of the list.
He has enjoyed plenty of support from Sam Stafford up forward and will look to the likes of Nick McInerney to break the packs and the likes of Fraser Marshall and Hamish Telford to clear the centre and deliver the ball up forward with accuracy.
Down back the likes of Jake Schutz and Josh Jenner will need to use their run and carry to clear the danger zone, while there will be plenty of pressure on ruckman Scott Flett to provide first use of the Sherrin around the stoppages.
However, Mundulla is not too dissimilar in its attacking prowess.
Harry Dowling, Jake McGrice and Nicholas Mosey all kicked three goals last week against Kyby, with Dowling just two goals behind McConnell on the goal kicking list.
McGrice has been at the top of his game for many years and always provides a tough contest, with the ability to clear the ball and deliver with pin-point accuracy.
Nicholas Gregurke has also been impressive for Mundulla, named in the best players in both games so far, while Sam Luckett has been a rock down back and James Hinge has been in good touch.
While some teams in the LCFL have chased players from other non-competing clubs, North has stuck firm to rewarding its players for last year’s premiership effort, plus the commitment to training this year with all of the coronavirus distractions thrown in.
McConnell will hope they all band together tomorrow and stand up against what appears to be the hot team in the competition.
With such a short season another loss could push North down to the dangerous fourth spot, Providing South can claim the honours over Kyby on the Demon’s home deck, which looks likely.
It may be a long drive up to Mundulla, but it would certainly be worth the effort to watch what should pan out as the most entertaining clash of the season to date.
SOUTH GAMBIER v KYBYBOLITE
FRESH off a win over at Kalangadoo, South Gambier will return to the comforts of home when it hosts Kybybolite in round three of the Limestone Coast Football League tomorrow.
The young Demons put in a valiant effort against the Magpies last week and managed to shake off their opponent in the fourth quarter for a 24-point win.
That was their first success of 2020, after a second-half lapse cost them against Western Border reigning premier North Gambier in the opening round.
Now with confidence levels up and in front of a home crowd at Blue Lake Sports Park, South will chase consecutive victories against the struggling Kybybolite.
Kyby is yet to post a win in the inaugural competition and will enter tomorrow’s clash as the underdog once again.
Despite an even win/loss record, South appears a reinvigorated team this year.
A few experienced recruits have bolstered the young brigade and completed what is now a well-rounded roster.
Kym Eagleson was the latest addition and he put on a show on Saturday to pick up the best-on-ground honours, while Brodie Foster has made himself comfortable alongside Brayden Kain around the attacking arc.
The pair bagged four goals each on the weekend and have provided the Demons with a dangerous two-pronged attack.
Add to the mix youngster Todd Reid, whose marking ability and athleticism compliments the forward line, along with the likes of Brett O’Neil, Patrick Mitchell and Patrick Glynn who provide support through the midfield and South has no shortage of avenues into attack.
Kyby has conceded the most goals after two rounds, with a total of 28 majors finding their way through the northern Tigers’ defence.
If they do not address that issue the Demons could find themselves with a percentage-boosting win which will put them in good stead heading into the second half of the short six-round season.
Last week the addition of Bill Laurie was a godsend for Kyby and his efforts alone made a noticeable difference against reigning Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara premier Mundulla.
Tom Cooper was also in fine form and Bodhi Carberry was the focal point in the forward 50 with two goals to his name.
However, with only three majors scored at Kyby’s end of the ground last week, it will need to step up in front of goal if it is to hold the Demons at bay.
South’s defence has also been solid this year, with Taylor Saffin always reliable to shut down a full forward, while Eagleson is also a prominent backman.
They will make it difficult for Kyby, who will need to up their game if they are to avoid another demoralising loss.
Jamie Bittner and Tom Kitschke found the big sticks twice each in round one against East Gambier, along with a list of single goal scorers.
If they can step up again South could have a battle on its hands but looking at form across the opening two rounds, the safe bet is on the home team tomorrow.