Loxton show they’ve got the goods

By Nick Kossatch

Loxton’s Peter Smith kicked five goals to help his side to an upset four-goal win against Waikerie in the Headspace third round of South Australia’s Riverland footy league.

The Tigers began in blazing fashion, skipper Leigh Kruger and Braden Smith setting the tone. Centreman Kruger helped set up youngster Jackson Fielke for the opening goal. Nick Uren and Pat Portolesi provided plenty of run from defence. Uren in particular and Kruger linked up well with one another.

Loxton’s tackling and pressure off the ball was sensational. Their Tiger fierceness had the hosts on the back foot. After Kruger spotted Peter Smith, who kicked truly, speedster Fielke’s defensive pressure led to Loxton’s third goal via Brad Pontt.

Waikerie superstar Nathan Tape, as he does so often, found space and he pin-pointed Tom Hyde unmarked. It was to be the Pies’ only goal for the first quarter and they faced a nineteen-point deficit.

Loxton mentor Steve “Goof” Smith emphasised during the quarter-time break that his team should seize its advantage and maintain the standard of footy they’d set.

The Tigers honoured Goof’s instruction.  Brilliant linking footy between Uren, Kruger and Rhys Mitchell led to a captain’s major.  Slowly but surely Waikerie’s gun players Shayne and Damian Stevens, Jim Thomson and Tape dragged their side back into the contest.

An epic was looming.  After the clean-skilled Peter Smith booted his second, Waikerie found some run.  A skipper’s goal to Damian Stevens was a precursor to another to Scott Nicholson, who took a superb juggling mark in the lead-up.  It provided a dramatic shift in momentum and Kruger’s influence waned in the second half of the term.  A curling goal from Tape saw his side within a kick at half-time.

Raph Liddle, after a strong first half in defence for Loxton, started the second half up forward.  Peter Smith was at the end of a precise pass by Kruger and Loxton were on their way yet again.  Their defence held firm through Mark Thiele and Jamie Fisher.  The Tigers’ third term mirrored their first.

Liddle took a tremendous mark from a Kruger clearance but missed a vital set shot at goal.   Brad Pontt soon kicked another important goal for his second.  The Tigers motored to a six-goal lead but the Magpies were not to be denied and the lively Matthew Gibson, across half forward, took a great mark.  His major pegged Loxton’s lead to 26 points.

It may have been less had it not been for a desperate stretch by Fisher that stopped an almost certain Craig Griffiths goal.

Loxton, for three quarters, had been using the ball better and linking up with handball confidently through the corridor.

The Magpies drew first blood in the last stanza with a goal to the skilful Max Baddock.  The game was still alive and when a terrific reflex goal was kicked by Liddle the visitors weathered Waikerie’s storm.  With some fifteen minutes left Gibson again goaled for the Pies.  They were hanging tough but Loxton hardnut Braden Smith, who was terrific all day, had a hand in Kruger’s assist to Lindsay Mitchell.  He sealed the deal for Loxton.

Despite the Stevens brothers, youngster Scott Pogorecki, Gibson and Tape having good moments, it was Fielke who stole the show with a piece of brilliance.  His daring run-away and bounce from Luke Horner culminated in another goal to Peter Smith.  There is a bit of Collingwood’s Dale Thomas in Fielke.

With the game all but over Loxton’s desperation did not end.  It was showcased by Fielke’s lunge and Pontt’s strong tackle on Horner.  These one-percenters proved a big difference in the end. The Tigers are to be reckoned with.

WRITER’S VOTES

5. KRUGER (L)

4. FIELKE (L)

3. P. SMITH (L)

2. B. SMITH (L)

1. UREN (L)

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