The Border Watch : May 23rd 2014
54 WESTERN BORDER FOOTBALL MORRIS ROD VISIT US ONLINE borderwatch.com.au Season on the line for Saints But tall order against Kangaroos firstname.lastname@example.org Head-to-head West v Millicent EVERY week this season, West Gambier has had no shortage of critics as to why it cannot win or it is going to fall on its own sword in the Western Border Football League. But in every case, David Stratman’s Kangaroos have come up trumps. Five wins from five starts and with an unbeaten run in the Elastoplast Cup pre-season competition already in the bank, surely suggests, West Gambier in 2014 is the real deal. In Round 4 the Roos stopped North Gambier’s unbeaten run with a solid four goal win at Vansittart Park and then last week followed that with a similar type of performance against South Gambier, a team that way too many people are lauding as the second best team in the competition. If North, as reigning premier are still the team to beat and South are second best, where does that leave, West? Unbeaten and on top of the ladder and two big scalps already under its belt surely demands a rethink from everyone who has underestimated this Kangaroo outfit. West has been remarkably consistent this season. Stratman’s team does not bury sides like North and South sometimes do, as shown by its winning margins, 19, 33, 7, 25 and 26. West’s biggest score is a modest 16.9 (105) against Millicent in Round 1 and the lowest – still a winning score - is 11.14 (80) against Casterton/Sandford in Round 3. For the clinical football watcher, that suggests West is sharing the workload around. Its defence is strong and –led by Steven Wenman – each player backs themselves with confidence, while up forward, the Roos have plenty of tall timber in Nick Allen, Nathan Lewis, Chris Wehl, Kayne O’Brien to take a pack mark or good crummers in Alan Kennedy, Tom Holmes, Garret Ha, Adam Gibbs and Josh Schapel to do the mopping up. And somewhere in between all that lot is Brad Wilson, who can player in any position he wants to and more often than not, wins. First versus last doesn’t warrant match-of-the-round status, but it still offers plenty of intrigue. Some cynics would suggest Millicent’s season is already shot and could ask: “Are the Saints any better than last year?” No wins from five rounds hints towards a negative answer but there’s no denying the talent that lies within. While the fault of Millicent’s situation can’t be directed towards warhorse veterans, Brad Tilley, Jeremy Hales, Steve Duldig, Nat Robbins and/or Cameron Haggett, there’s still too many passengers on what used to be the Millicent Express but has now been rejigged to “Puffing Billy.” If the Saints can at least offer a 100pc effort for every minute of the match, then supporters will 54 - The Border Watch, Friday, May 23, 2014 North v East Played: 118 Wins: North 51; East 65; 2 draws Last time: North 22.11 (143) d East 4.8 (32), Round 1, April 12, 2014 at McDonald Park (night game) Casterton/Sandford v South FIVE weeks ago, this match could have been billed as a potential blockbuster, given the pre-season hype surrounding both teams. But going into Round 6, both are coming off losses and sit fifth (Casterton/Sandford) and third (South). Not much there to get enthused about. When they met at Blue Lake Sports Park in the opening round, South pulled a hatchet job on the Cats slashing them to the tune of 97 points and extending its winning run against the blue and white hooped brigade to eight games stretching back to that infamous Round 18 match in 2010 when a Casterton surprise victory robbed South of top spot and – quite possibly – the premiership. ROOS FLYING HIGH: Undefeated top team, West Gambier will tackle the winless bottom side, Millicent at Malseed Park tomorrow. glaringly obvious. The reigning premier belted the Bulldogs by 111-points under the McDonald Park lights. Since then, the gap has closed somewhat although that’s not to suggest East is going to cause the boilover of the season tomorrow afternoon at Vansittart Park. East have had a couple of gigantic confidence boosters in the last fortnight and all of a sudden Brendan Little’s men find themselves inside the top four and only two wins behind the North Gambier juggernaut. The youthful enthusiasm of Matt McCallum, Matt Dempsey and Matt Van Schaik is rubbing off on the older heads such as Jason Dunn, Sam Clark, Chris Anderson and skipper, Shem Balshaw. Throw in the current hot form of Jayden Eldridge, Kevin Thomson, Mark Kieselbach, Nick Lock, Toby Case and Dylan Howard and it becomes a little clearer that Tigers’ coach Justin McConnell won’t want to take things too lightly with the Bulldogs. GOTCHA: East Gambier’s Sam Clark is about to tackle North’s Nick Bartetzko. at least accept it, but repeats of some efforts so far, certainly won’t. Head-to-head West v Millicent Played: 100 Wins: West 40; Millicent 60 Last time: West 16.9 (105) d Millicent 12.14 (86), Round 1, April 12, 2014 at McLaughlin Park North v East WHEN these two sides clashed back in Round 1, the chasm between North and East was North were hit hard early in a physical start to the Casterton/ Sandford before recovering, getting their breath back, settling things down and then taking control and running out 33-point winners. At first glance, North don’t look as dominate as either of the 2012 or 2013 seasons, but most experts would quickly point out that the Tigers are still the team to beat for this year’s flag. Admittedly its almost a whole new batch of players at both camps now and events of 2010 matter for absolutely zilch ... then again it might be a localised version of “Kennett’s Curse.” Twice in the last three weeks, Casterton/Sandford have coughed up narrow leads in the last quarter to lose matches it seemingly had won. An over-physical start against North last week appeared to tire the Cats after half time and it tailed off to lose by more than five goals. Coach Dylan Ayton has to find that happy medium where his team gets in front and stays there (if possible). Down the spine, the Casterton/ Sandford line-up is more-than equal to what South will come up with, while both teams on-ballers are extremely handy possession winners. So tomorrow’s match could come down to desire, concentration and stamina. Unfortunately for the Cats, the home ground advantage will be anything but as South have not lost at Island Park since Round 18, 2007. Tomorrow’s game will also be the 100th occasion the two clubs have met under the WBFL banner with the Demons currently leading 69-30. Head-to-head Casterton/Sandford v South Played: 99 Wins: Casterton/Sandford 30; South 69 Last time: South 21.17 (143) d Casterton/Sandford 7.4 (46), Round 1, April12, 2014 at Blue Lake Sports Park On current ladder positions, North v East is the match-of-theround, lets hope the end product justifies the hype.
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