Upsets galore in surprising Limestone Coast football round

Sam Mcmanus, Tom Gould Dsc 2715  TBW Newsgroup
OPEN ARMS: Kalangadoo's Sam McManus takes a mark ahead of North young gun Tom Gould during the Magpies' thrilling round four win over the Tigers.

Sam Mcmanus, Tom Gould Dsc 2715 TBW Newsgroup
OPEN ARMS: Kalangadoo’s Sam McManus takes a mark ahead of North young gun Tom Gould during the Magpies’ thrilling round four win over the Tigers.

KALANGADOO 10.4 (64) d NORTH GAMBIER 7.4 (46) 

THE Magpies have swooped into finals contention after an entertaining round four victory over North Gambier in the last unknown result between two reigning premiers within the Limestone Coast Football League.

Played at Kalangadoo, a fourth term blitz from the home team blew the game wide open after three close quarters.

It was not dissimilar to the Magpies’ previous home game, but in that instance it was South which upped the ante in the final stanza to win.

At the final change it appeared Kalangadoo might suffer the same fate as the Tigers carried momentum into the fourth, but the home team blew them away with five goals to ice the match.

After a goalless first half against East Gambier in round three, the Magpies wasted no time addressing that issue on the weekend with the opening goal of the match.

North quickly replied through Michael Telford, before key forward Ben Mules handed the advantage back to the Magpies with consecutive goals.

A good goal from Fraser Marshall reeled in the Tigers’ deficit before the first change, with the usual sound of the siren replaced by a cow bell due to technical issues on the day.

Another even quarter followed and at the main break the two teams sat on 26 apiece.

North pushed hard after half time, but it was not until late in the third quarter the Tigers put their nose in front for the first time all day, when Nick Moretti scored his second goal for the term to put his team up by a straight kick at three-quarter time.

However, the ascension was short lived and North went on to score just one more goal for the game.

Kalangadoo on the other hand almost doubled its score with a renewed effort which caught its guests off guard.

Braiden Ousey was dangerous in front of the big sticks and he finished with four goals for the winning team, while Mules and Jack Casey also scored multiples.

Several of those scoring opportunities were set up by a Brad Bryant delivery or a play the Penola recruit was involved in and as such he rightly topped the best players’ list.

Mathew Fatchen was also impressive – particularly in the air – while Mitchel Lowe put in another strong defensive effort.

Tye McManus, Andrew Stone and Casey were also shortlisted for the match.

For North, Moretti finished up with four majors in a season-best output which also put him among the best.

However, it was a young Tiger which impressed most on the day, with Thomas Gould awarded the top honours for his determined efforts around the ground.

Austin Kitschke was also recognised in his second game for North, as were Marshall and Jake Schutz.

This week the Tigers find themselves up against Mundulla for a tough rematch at Vansittart Park, while Kalangadoo will hope for an easier result against a struggling Kybybolite.

SOUTH GAMBIER 10.8 (68) d MUNDULLA 8.7 (55)

JUST as it appeared the Limestone Coast Football League season could not be any closer, another weekend of upsets tightened the pecking order even further.

The biggest surprise of the round occurred at Mundulla when South Gambier made the road trip for a pivotal game in its 2020 campaign.

Up against the reigning Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara premiers on their home ground, the Demons entered the clash as the underdogs.

However, South took on the challenge and after four entertaining quarters, cemented itself as a team to beat in the inaugural competition with a 13-point win.

The standard of football was high from the outset and nothing could separate the sides in the opening quarter.

At the first change Mundulla led by a point before the Demons appeared to get on top of their opponent in the second term.

The Mundulla defence became rattled after a 50-metre penalty put Brett O’Neil at the top of the goal square and at the main break the visitors held a three-goal advantage.

That buffer came at an opportune moment as the heavens opened up at half time with a downpour of rain which lasted the entire third quarter.

Scoring dried up in the wet conditions and a goal each left the Moots to play catch-up football in the final stanza.

The Demons held firm and despite three goals from the hosts, majors to Kym Eagleson and Sam Willis held Mundulla at bay and South won its third consecutive game.

Coach Bronson Saffin was in fine form on the day and received the best-on-ground honours from his team management, in a match which was another impressive display of country football.

“It was a great game from both sides I thought – it was a really high skilled game and fast paced all day,” Saffin said.

Saffin said the focus for his Demons heading into the clash was to maintain the consistency of its recent outings.

“We have really just been focusing on playing consistent footy,” he said.

“That is what good sides do week in, week out and that is the level we are trying to get to.

“Coming up against Mundulla, obviously a side none of us in the Western Border had played before – it was just a real unknown I suppose.

“We knew they were a quality side and they move the ball well with quality players all over the field and we knew it was going to be a tough game regardless.”

You would be forgiven for thinking the absence of Brodie Foster on Saturday would cut South’s scoring power in half, but a talented youngster stepped up to fill the hole left by the key forward.

Todd Reid bagged three goals – two in the opening term – for an equal game-high total in a solid display which also had him among the Demons’ best.

He was joined by Brayden Kain, Willis and Eagleson with two each, while O’Neil had one.

O’Neil was a standout once again for the Demons and his work rate through the middle is often a key to South’s success.

That was a focal point for Saffin on Saturday, as he believed the midfield battle would dictate the result of the game.

“We really focused on the midfield – we felt that was where the game was going to be won or lost,” he said.

“They have quality midfielders and quality players who do not need much room to use the ball well.

“It was a real tight contest all day and it was actually just a really good game – it was a really good to play and be involved in.”

Robert Hein also impressed again, as did youngster Colby Munro and Glencoe recruit Patrick Mitchell, with all three among the top performers.

For Mundulla James Hinge backed up with his second best-on-ground performance in as many weeks, complimented by two goals.

Luke Weise was the main target in front of goal with three to his name, while Nicholas Mosey bagged two.

With only two minor rounds to play and five teams well in contention, there is no room for error and regardless of who makes the top four it is sure to be a thrilling sprint towards finals.

“It is just a week by week thing – you have to make sure you are on your game each week and you cannot really afford to not be playing good footy,” Saffin said.

EAST GAMBIER 11.7 (73) d KYBYBOLITE 5.8 (38)

EAST Gambier returned to the winner’s circle with a strong win away from home over Kybybolite in the fourth round of the Limestone Coast Football League on Saturday.

The 35-point victory allowed the Bulldogs to retain their stranglehold at the pointy end of the ladder and bounce back from their first and only defeat of the season against Kalangadoo.

Although East controlled the majority of the contest, Kyby did not make it easy and both teams struggled to break free during a low-scoring first half.

The home side created pressure around the ball and produced double the amount of scoring opportunities to the Bulldogs in the first quarter.

But Kyby could not convert and allowed the visitors to hold a three-point lead at the change.

The second term followed a similar path with only one goal scored by East as the breezy conditions dictated terms.

However, when teams returned to the field in the third quarter the game jumped another gear after the wind died down.

Kybybolite charged out of the blocks with accurate kicking to score two majors and level the scores in the blink of an eye.

But the Bulldogs responded fiercely and rediscovered their outside run to score four unanswered goals and snatch the advantage.

The likes of Jayden Eldridge, Jake Harrap and Matthew McCallum were instrumental in the turnaround which stunned the hosts.

Kyby only kicked truly twice more before the final siren as the winless side had no answer for the Bulldogs’ momentum.

John Forster continued his strong form and moved the ball forward with his hard-nosed approach, which was capitalised by Mark Rumbelow and Lachie Jones.

The pair kicked six goals between them and Giancarlo Cooper was also lively inside 50, while young Riley Flamank enjoyed a moment he will never forget by scoring his first A Grade goal.

Kybybolite’s effort was led by Jack Mckay and Bradley Castine, while Bill Laurie fought hard.

After a disappointing loss to the Magpies in home conditions, East playing coach Matt Willson said his men were hungry to responded with a strong performance.

“It is always a longer week after a loss, so we had eight days stewing on it before we had our next opportunity and the boys were eager to get out there,” he said.

“We wanted to get back to the way we like to play.”

The result was the second time the Bulldogs had faced Kybybolite this year and finished on the winning side.

Back in round one East won by 51 points and Willson believed Kyby put up a far greater challenge in the rematch.

“Kyby have come a long way since we last played them in round one,” he said.

“Their pressure around the contested footy was really good and when they were on the attack they cut us open a few times with their foot skills.”

The most pleasing part of the victory for Willson arrived in the third quarter when the home side’s gameplay threatened to take the match away from the Bulldogs.

Kyby kicked two quick goals before East turned around to outscore the home side 51-16 for the remainder of the contest.

Willson said it came down to a change in mindset.

“We probably put more of a focus on the work around the contests,” he said.

“Once we were able to tidy up our ball use around the contests, we were able to give our runners more opportunities and get it outside, which created more forward entries and the game opened up.

“It was really pleasing to see the maturity some of our boys showed when we were up against it.”