Gawler Central’s 10-point win at Angaston may be a ray of hope for the Tigers faithful but for the Panthers it’s a worrying sign that they are hovering just above rock bottom.
Despite still missing star ruckman Luke Howard, the Tigers clearly saw this as an opportunity to claim their first points of the season.
However, it was the home side that got on the front foot early with Nic Falland and Brad Sugars each nailing a pair of goals.
At the other end Paul Bova added a pair for the Tigers which combined with one from Todd Lamont kept the Tigers within six points at the first break.
The Panthers were short-handed with their captain Matt Doecke who, fresh off his 350th game the previous week missed just the fifth game of his career to be with his wife Anita who gave birth to their first child Kyla Ellen on Saturday evening.
Kicking with the aid of a slight breeze the Tigers displayed better ball skills than the Panthers, who, too often are their own worst enemy turning the ball over, especially when trying to move the ball out of defence.
Kalon Heintze celebrated his 50th game with a goal in the second as the Tigers started to show the spirit they have been renowned for in recent years. Central gained a one point lead at half time.
With the home side desperately seeking just their second win of season 2012 a third quarter fight back was always on the cards.
Goals from Brandon Kurtz, Sugars and Jack Fosdike were enough in what was an ugly game to watch, to get them back on top.
Unfortunately Bova popped up once more to split the middle and first-gamer, 15-year-old Jackson Harvey kicked the first goal of what should be a great career.
Tiger veteran Aaron King was full of praise for the work of his team’s forwards.
“Bova, he’s just a freak,” King said. “Unfortunately this year our forward 50m entries have been too few because we know if we get it to him one on one he’ll get it.
“Jackson’s game was great, at 15 to play centre half forward and have five shots on goal is a big deal.”
King was also upbeat about the Tigers’ year despite the lack of success.
“It’s been tough, but we’ve been in most games at half time.
“The effort level has definitely been there. We know where we’re at all of the bottom three sides, ourselves, Angaston and Freeling know that when we come up against each other we’ve got to make the most of it.”
King along with Jason Blakemore were good for the Tigers in the midfield with their work-rate a perfect example for their younger teammates.
For the Panthers, the problems are plentiful.
Apart from the obvious lack of a ruckman, their skills are not consistently good enough, they don’t seem to know where to go when they don’t have the ball and they’ve become too predictable, always looking for Sugars when going forward.
The only positives to come from the game being the continued improvement of Falland and young big man Alex Reincke along with the best showing to date for promising rookie Matt Head.
Things may not get any better for the Panthers this week as they travel to play title favourites Tanunda while Central’s high may be short lived as they tackle Barossa Districts in this week’s fixture.