Tigers turn tables to grab thriller

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Denmark's Ryan Gaerth gets clear of Railways' Ethan Knee.
Camera IconDenmark's Ryan Gaerth gets clear of Railways' Ethan Knee. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Railways player-coach Craig Frost will not be drawn into the Tigers’ flying start to the season despite being the only unbeaten team in the Great Southern Football League after four rounds.

Denmark-Walpole missed a golden opportunity to inflict the Tigers’ first loss of the season, squandering a five-goal lead in the third term to lose by five points at McLean Park on Saturday.

For the second time this season, the Tigers had to erase a five-goal margin to keep their unbeaten record intact and stormed home after a lacklustre first half to win, 11.14 (80) to 11.9 (75).

The Tigers had not led in the match until Zak Hortin slotted his third goal from a set shot tight on the boundary and ruckman Shane Braimbridge roved a pack in front of goal, kicking the sealer with only minutes remaining.

The win gave the Tigers their best start to a season since 2015 when they won their first seven games and reached the grand final, but Frost said his side had been less than convincing in two of their four victories.

“We were lucky to win in the end,” he said. “It’s good character-building coming from five goals down but it’s definitely not the way we want to keep winning.”

The Magpies, led by clearance dynamo Jaden Guidi, dominated the first term but failed to capitalise fully on their ascendency despite keeping the Tigers scoreless.

Railways’ lack of height in defence was exposed early when ruckmen Jake Phillips and Hendrix Ropiha created headaches deep in attack and ace midfielder Ryan Gaerth linked up across half forward.

Their 19-point half-time margin was pushed to five goals when Luke Hutcheson slotted a 50m goal from a 50m penalty, the home side’s third consecutive major of the term, to carry all the momentum.

But Tigers youngster Tom Wolfe continued to bob up to keep his side in the contest, slotting three goals of his own in the term to give the visitors a pulse at the final change when they trailed by 24 points.

Matt Candy’s men were left to rue two defensive blunders that led to the Tigers’ last two majors of the match and lost Tyler Stone to an ankle injury and Hayden Collard to a hamstring strain. The visitors ran over the top of the Magpies, whose daring runs and quick ball movement went missing when most needed with a four-goal lead.

Busy wingman Dylan Schorer was awarded the matchday ball for the Belt Up Round, while chief midfielder Zane Marwick gathered many possessions.

The Magpies’ usual suspects, new recruit Guidi along with co-captain Luke Marley, Stone, and Gaerth were once again in the thick of the action, while Ropiha was instrumental in the ruck.

Candy said his players took the loss hard after squandering their winning position.

“I’m disappointed for them as they worked so bloody hard and didn’t get across the line,” he said.

“We had full control for three quarters and let it go. That’s what they’re capable of and capable of getting across the line in future.”

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