A new-look South Whyalla opened season 2018 with an encouraging 11-point victory over a youthful Weeroona Bay at Memorial on Sunday. The Tigers had a dream start to the game booting five unanswered goals, their energy and speed had the Demons under the pump right from the get go.
Tiger playmaker Rowan Mitchell was hurting the Demons on the inside as were Bevan Doolan and Max Zbierski on the outside. The Demons were second to the ball for much of the quarter but to their credit they steadied the ship with three of the last four goals of the quarter to trail by 21 points at the first break.
Buoyed by a good end to the first quarter the Demons started to grow in confidence, new recruit Nathan Ahmat-Watkins and Joel Howard-Bristow took control through the midfield giving the Demons repeated inside 50 entries. The Demons were peppering the goals but inaccurate kicking saw them kick five straight behinds as they failed to take advantage of their dominance.
Under the pump the young Tigers showed some real resilience and were able to answer against the run of play twice through Kade Gale-Jones to extended their lead to just under five goals. With time running out in the term the Demons through weight of numbers booted the last three goals of the term to reduce the deficit to seven points at the main break.
Freak Phillips, playing predominantly as a forward, moved into the ruck just before half time and started to stamp his authority on the game in the third term, his tap work to advantage was first class. With the Tigers tiring and the ball entrenched in the Demon forward half, the Dees started hitting the scoreboard, a stretch of four unanswered goals had the Demons 21 points in front and looking like running away with the game.
But the Tigers just wouldn’t go away and when Gale-Jones kicked his fifth deep into time it was a 15 point ball game at the last change. Both sides where running on empty but the Tigers with that never say die attitude weren’t going down without a fight.
Looking fresher, the Bays attacked time and time again and were rewarded with a Rowan Mitchell goal which reduced the margin to nine points. It was now time for the Demons to dig deep and respond and respond they did with two goals, the second and the sealer was kicked by the ever impressive Ahmat-Watkins giving his side enough breathing space to hold on and win by 11 points.
Best player for the Demons was skipper Cody Pettiford his four quarter effort across half forward and through the midfield was influential in his sides win, Mark Phillips’s move into the ruck changed the game, Nathan Ahmat-Watkins was best afield in the first half before tiring, Joel Howard-Bristow was hard as nails in the centre of the ground and Peter Eades played a real team orientated game across half back.
For the Tigers Bevan Doolan gave the Demon defence plenty to think about, his electric speed and ball use were exceptional, Kade Gale-Jones was the best forward on the ground in the first half when he booted four of his five goals, Max Ziberski provided plenty of outside run on his wing, Simon Wheeler provided his side with plenty of dash and Jake Bienke battled hard in the centre.