By Trevor Jackson
A GRADE – MILLICENT 12.11 (83) d SOUTH GAMBIER 7.6 (48)
A STRONG second half handed Millicent its second Western Border football premiership in three completed seasons, after its 35-point victory over South Gambier on Saturday.
The game was in the balance at Malseed Park until the third term where the Saints extended a 10-point half-time lead to a 28-point third-quarter margin and began to stake a claim on the premiership flag.
While there was time for the Demons to mount a challenge, league leading goal kicker Gene Robinson ensured that would not be the case, as he slotted home two classy final-quarter goals on the run from out wide for the Saints to finish the season in style.
Robinson’s efforts also took him to a 1000 goal total for his career.
Leading up to the grand final the Demons had lost just two games throughout the minor rounds – one of those to Millicent in the wet.
South made short work of Millicent in the semi-finals, with a 37-point victory to book a grand final berth.
The Saints were forced to go the long way around and defeated North Gambier in the preliminary final, but even that extra game made no difference, as they tasted a possible victory after a half of grand final football in the damp conditions and went on with the job.
Premiership coach Clint Gallio was rightly pleased with the effort of his players.
“I have no words really,” he told The Border Watch.
“It is pretty special.
“We came from nowhere in 2019 where we didn’t win a game, then in 2020 we didn’t play any footy.
“The work we have done as a senior group is phenomenal.
“It is a super-young side and I am really proud of the group, what we have a achieved.
“I am looking forward to the future now because we have a bright future.”
In 2018 the Saints held off a fast-finishing East Gambier to claim a drought-breaking premiership, but the turnaround from the 2019 season was indeed phenomenal, with the Saints not really looking like winning that year.
Gallio said that was a driving factor in the success this season.
“I think when you lose games of footy and don’t win one for a whole season, it drives you a bit,’ he said.
“We have a few new faces in and a young group, but I think the willingness to learn and get better every week and the willingness to put in the work is a big tick for the group.
“I am just the lucky one who gets to coach them.”
Gallio gave a big shout out to Robinson for his efforts, not only in the grand final, but throughout the 2020 season.
“He is a classy player,” he said.
“He kicked his 1000th goal (Saturday), which is an amazing effort – he is only 28.
“What he has brought to the club on the field and off the field is priceless.
“He is a champion player and gets out what he puts in.
“He has brought our group up another level.”
Gallio said for much of the season Tom Renzi had been stationed in the half-back line, which his experience and strong ball use helping to set up attacking plays.
With the ever-green Steve Duldig in the backline and a group of young, keen footballers, it all paid dividends on Saturday.
“With Tom and Steve back there with a bit of composure with older heads, the young boys in the back six have come along in leaps and bounds,” Gallio said.
“I think everyone of them won their positions (Saturday) which helps flow the footy forward.”
Gallio said the addition of Jacob Carger in the lineup was also a major factor in the success of the group.
Carger played and exceptional game and was awarded best-on-ground honours.
Finn Grimes played a strong game in the ruck, while Sam Willis continued his solid season.
“Finn Grimes has come along in leaps and bounds as a young ruckmen,” Gallio said.
“Sam Willis’s football has gone to another level.
“He copped a bit of attention (Saturday), but he is a quality footballer and you are going to get that when you are a quality footballer.
“He played quite well.
“Bringing Jacob Carger into the side – he was there for a couple of months and was voted captain.
“That shows you what sort of bloke he is around the group.”
Robinson topped the score sheets with four majors, while Carger, Kade Varcoe and Eli Redman kicked two each.
Brodie Foster was the only multiple goal kicker for South with two majors.