Tigers run it out in tight contest

TOUGH GAME: North Gambier's Darcy Arthurson gets a handball free as he is wrapped up by South Gambier's Nelson Forbes on Saturday. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy

NORTH GAMBIER 9.10 (64) d SOUTH GAMBIER 7.10 (52)

IT stood as the most interesting match of the round in Limestone Coast A Grade football and the clash at Blue Lake Sports Park between the Demons and the Tigers did not disappoint.

Both teams carried form into the bout and it was not surprising to see little separate the sides in the opening half of play.

In fact, the back-and-forth nature of the game kept scores limited during that time and by the main break only six goals had been scored in total.

The game was set to a fast pace from the first bounce and when not encumbered by the intense tackling pressure, players from both ends exhibited impressive speed down the ground.

Two goals each in the opening term had North up by a point at the change, before a deadlock in the second term had scorekeepers twiddling their thumbs for its majority.

A goal at each end came late in the quarter, while South scored a handful of behinds in this time to edge in front by two points.

Heading into the main break the game remained ripe for the taking and it was the Tigers who gripped it with both hands.

They near doubled their score in the “premiership” quarter and while South kept the pace with a couple of goals of its own, North returned to the lead going into the last.

The five-point advantage was not much but it was enough and the Tigers built on that with another three-goals-three to keep their nose in front when it counted.

The final margin was 12 points, with the result lifting North into third position on the ladder – now above West Gambier on percentage.

North co-coach Nick McInerney was pleased with the outcome and in particular the way his team saw the game out to its conclusion.

“It was a good arm wrestle in the first half,” he said.

“It was pleasing to come back out after half time and come out on top by the end.

“They are a good, young, fit side, so we were really pleased to be able to run it out, particularly in the last quarter.”

Despite the shift in momentum in the second half, McInerney said the changes made were minimal.

The Tigers put faith in their processes and it proved a wise move in the end.

“We just backed in what we were doing and just tidied up a few things,” McInerney said.

“We didn’t think we were playing great in the first half – we had a lot of turnovers and things like that.

“We just tried to have a bit more care with our ball use in the second half and not over handball the ball.

“Once we were able to get on top of that it felt a bit better.”

In previous weeks the Tigers shared the goal kicking, but on Saturday it was Toby de Wit who stood tall.

He snagged a game-high four goals, complemented by a list of single goal scorers.

The Demons had Harry Fisher and Rex Jones both kick multiples with two each.

With plenty of key match ups around the ground, it all started in the middle where in-form ruckmen Mitchell Kelton and Mason Hein went head-to-head.

Both players have been regulars in their team’s best players and on the weekend Kelton emerged as North’s best on ground.

“He just battles so hard every game and he is always up against really good opponents,” McInerney said.

“His follow-up efforts after the initial ball up is really impressive as well.

“Playing against Mason – who is a really good ruckman – we were really impressed with how he handled himself on the weekend.”

Cameron Ortlepp was another who impressed for the Tigers and he put in a trademark performance with plenty of possession through the midfield.

Josh Jenner was another standout in the middle, while young-gun Aaron Dally earned a mention as well, as did de Wit.

McInerney also gave mention to Bradley Adams, who played a role on young South talent Mitchell Sims, while Kade Allen continued to show he is a star in the making as a 17-year-old playing in his debut A Grade season for the Tigers.

Jones topped South’s best players, while Emerson Marks put in another solid performance.

Harry Fisher and Hein rounded out the Demons’ best, with focus now turned to a bye for the long weekend, before gearing up against West Gambier the following week.

North hosts Casterton Sandford in Round 8, which based on the latter’s recent form could be a closer contest than their previous meeting.