THE Southern Mallee Giants introduced themselves to a new league in nearly perfect fashion on Saturday.
A goal within the opening minute of the contest set the standard before the side went on to defeat the Warrack Eagles 16.14 (110) to 10.7 (67).
Giants coach Coleman Schache said getting a quick start helped settle a few nerves as the side found itself against an unfamiliar opponent.
“It’s very pleasing to make a good start in the new league,” he said. “The crowd supporting us here today was awesome and it was a great to be part of.”
Wet weather had hampered some of the earlier contests at Warracknabeal’s Anzac Park but it had disappeared by the time the senior teams ran on. Both teams still had to make adjustments to the conditions a heavy wind favoured the scoreboard end of the ground.
The Giants made the most of it in order to pile on seven unanswered goals in the opening quarter. The Warrack Eagles players struggled to move the ball past centre as their kicks failed to have any penetration. Coach Ryan McKenzie said it was something his side had talked about prior to the game but it failed to execute its plan.
“We didn’t work hard enough early – we allowed them to much outside football which saw them get that seven goal lead,” he said. “It was probably as strong of a wind favouring one end that I’ve played in. In the first quarter we pretty much levelled the clearances but the impact of their clearances going forward 50-60 metres was more than we could manage.”
The home side worked its way back into the contest during the second quarter with Charlie Wilson providing a spark with two quick goals. The side managed five for the quarter but two Southern Mallee goals into the wind allowed it to maintain an 18-point lead at the main break.
The Giants again made a fast start in the third quarter before the Warrack Eagles scrambled their way to two late goals.
With a quarter to play the Giants led by 35 but Schache knew his side would be challenged. During the break he urged his players to dig deep in order to maintain momentum in the knowledge that an early goal could seal the contest. Sam White did just that to extend the margin beyond 40 points and his side did not look back as the Warrack Eagles ran out of legs and the wind died down before 43 points separated the side at the final siren.
Tyler Lehmann, Coleman Schache, and Samuel Weddell set the stand for the Giants in the win.
“Tyler put his head under every pack all day,” Schache said. “You can rely on him because you know that it will be a contest. Sam Weddell and Zac Robins were marking it all day down back for us to help us repel Warrack.”
Wilson and Shannon Argall were among Warrack Eagles’ best while McKenzie praised the work of Aaron Watts and Jake Cheney who had tough defensive assignments on Nicholas O’Farrell and Tyler Lehmann.