Originally written by SIMON BAMPFIELD
PORTLAND put some distance between itself and the rest of the competition on Saturday after handing South Gambier a 102-point thrashing in round seven of the Western Border Football League.
Saturday’s game was Portland’s fourth straight victory by more than 100 points and continues the unbeaten run in 2011.
It was an impressive performance by the ladder leaders in a game that was riddled with poor turnovers and poor kicking by both teams.
The Demons got off to a great start in the opening term, booting the first goal two minutes in by Ashley Bryant.
James Imbi responded two minutes later with his first, but South responded straight away to hit the front once again.
From then on though Portland gained a stranglehold on the match and via a hard working half forward line and efficient full forward line the home side piled on eight more goals in the opening term to South’s one.
Coach Jarrod Holt, Jarrod Hayse and Beau Bentley were instrumental in the quarter, combining for seven of the nine majors.
The midfield worked hard in the opening term and was narrowly on top of South inside the square.
Marcus England again led the way, finished the opening term with 11 possessions while Luke Van Heugten started the match in great form on the wing and Jaydon Stiles controlled the half forward line for the Tigers.
For South there were a few standouts, Tim Stringer had plenty of ball in the midfield while James Paprotny, Brett O’Neil and Simon Berkefeld had quarters.
At quarter time though the margin was 37 points and the signs were not good for the Demons at all.
Both teams worked harder around the stoppages in the second term and made sure neither team would get a run on.
The times that players did get on their own usually ended up in a turnover though as much of the term was played in between the two forward 50 arcs.
With the ball in close South coach Jon Copping came into the game and his decision-making was a standout.
South’s Copping and Stringer along with Portland’s Stiles were the most efficient players on the ground, not only in the second term, but the entire match.
Stiles’ contribution at half forward was crucial in the second quarter, marking strongly at the five-minute mark to kick his second for the day.
Overall the Tigers outplayed South Gambier again and booted six goals to one, extending the lead to 69 points at the long break.
Nathan Bennett was excellent at centre half back while Cam Mather and Tim Chester also played well in defence.
Midfielders Daniel Falcone and Rhys Egan came into the game in the second term as well.
Upon returning to the ground the Tigers were one short for the rest of the game with England suffering a corked thigh.
The Demons needed to get off to a good start to mount a comeback and Simon Berkefeld delivered that with a nice goal on the run from 40 metres out.
South Gambier would kick two of the first three goals of the term to reduce the margin slightly to 66 points.
That is as close as the Demons would get though with both teams booting three majors for the term and Portland held a 72-point lead heading into the final term.
Portland dominated the final term and it was Stiles again that got the team going, scoring his fourth goal of the day just 23 second into the term.
Hayse, Holt and Stiles would boot two goals each and Jason Saunders one as the Tigers kicked 7.2 for the quarter to finish up big winners 25.13 to 9.7.
Stiles had a brilliant game with 30 possessions, eight marks and five goals to be a clear best on ground.
Falcone was another player that racked up the touches, claiming 31 in the last three quarters while Van Heugten, Egan, Bennett and James Imbi also deserved a mention in the best.
For South Stringer was exceptional and his field kicking was a pleasure to watch while Simon Berkefeld, Paprotny and Copping also played well.
Hayse finished with six majors, Holt and Stiles booted five apiece, Bentley added four and Imbi two for the winners.
Portland coach Holt was pleased with how his side performed on the day.
“I was a little bit worried going into the game that we had come off three sort of easy wins, I thought we might have come out a little bit slow,” Holt said.
“I think South kicked the first goal, but our first quarter was really good, I think we kicked eight or nine goals and I was really happy with that.”
The victory also gives the Tigers a perfect record at 7-0 heading into the interleague break.
“We knew we had a good side this year, but I’m sure we have outdone most peoples expectations, but the challenge for us is to continue the good form, it’s not going to be easy to do it for a whole season, but if we keep working hopefully that is the case.”
After seven rounds the nearest competitor is West Gambier and the Kangaroos are two wins and 133.31 percent behind.