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Tigers Overcome Their Demons

Ninth-placed Willunga went into the game against eighth-placed Yankalilla with the intention of winning their first game of the season and drawing equal with the visitors on one win apiece. Instead, the hard running Tigers were never headed after the first quarter and Willunga were left languishing on zero wins from seven games. Their win-loss ratio is the worst in decades and comes as a shock for last season’s runners-up.

Jesse Fitzgerald and Gaskin were good players from the first siren but their forwards let them down. Willunga were no more impressive until Bass took a strong mark and kicked the opening goal of the game at the 15-minute mark. Brad Fitzgerald and Bartlett kicked a goal each to put the visitors in front until Hutchens, who was working hard for Willunga, forced the ball forward to Sherry who marked and goaled and levelled the scores at quarter time.

Yankalilla’s Kantilla and Gerber had positive impacts early in the second term and created flashes of brilliance. Colwell came strongly into the game for the Demons and presented a constant danger up forward with his balance and skills off both feet. Bass kicked the first for the quarter but the Tiger’s Biddle got it back immediately. Parsons scored another within a minute and gave his team a small but handy lead. Another major through the boot of Nolan put the Demons under pressure until a long well-directed kick by McDonald to Colwell brought the home-side back within touch just before halftime. Defensive work by the Tigers’ Duke and Fitzgerald helped Yankalilla hold a one goal lead at halftime.

The third quarter was the most free-flowing of the game with both teams kicking four goals. Jack Fitzgerald ran through the centre-square and delivered to Biddle whose helicopter punt just crossed the goal line. Soon afterwards the visitors rebounded the ball from deep in defence along the wing and deep into the forward lines where Kantilla read the ball off and slotted a major. Goals to Altus and Bass brought Willunga back in touch. Jesse and Jack Fitzgerald defended fiercely for Yankalilla and rebounded many Willunga attacks. Biddle and Nolan combined to run the ball along the top wing. The ball was kicked long to Kantilla who marked and goaled against the flow. Bass got it immediately back for the Demons.

In the final quarter Bartlett and Jesse Fitzgerald led Yankalilla and Colwell and Bekkers battled hard for the home side. Daniell lifted and looked dangerous in attack for Willunga but the Demons could not hurt Yankalilla on the scoreboard. When the Tigers eventually got the ball into their forward lines two players performed feats of magic. Biddle roved a ball in the forward pocket and kicked a high swirling left-foot goal over his head from the boundary line then Kantilla grabbed a ball in heavy traffic on the opposite boundary line and slotted a 50-metre goal with a powerful kick around the body. Willunga fought back: Daniell set up Sherry who marked and converted then an errant cross-ground pass by a Yank defender was intercepted by Willunga’s Schmidt who goaled from 50-metres. When the game was in the balance, the Tiger’s Kantilla weaved through traffic deep in defence and passed to a teammate on the wing who chipped to a running player who kicked long to full forward where Gerber out-marked his opponent and goaled to ensure a Tigers’ win.

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