Wonderful Wonthaggi

Spill: Pressure from Moe's Jacob Wood sees Wonthaggi's Joel Liddle lose the ball . photograph tom gannon




THERE was no shortage of talking points when results came to hand from Round 12 of Gippsland League football.

A team from the west was able to secure its first win of the season, while the two teams from South Gippsland said ‘catch us if you can’ as they made the trip home following wins over fellow top four sides.

WONTHAGGI was the big winners out of the round.

The Power defeated Moe at Ted Summerton Reserve by 11 points 8.9 (57) to 6.10 (46).

On the scoreboard at least the match was won in the middle section, as Wonthaggi kicked seven goals to one between quarter time and three quarter time.

The Power took a nine-point lead and momentum into half-time after kicking some incredible goals on the eve of the break, and carried this into the third.

Wonthaggi put on a genuine clinic in the third term as the ball virtually lived inside their 50.

Playing a surge-forward game, the Power ran on top of the ground and flicked the ball quickly by hand and cleanly by foot, which was aided by Troy Harley’s vice-like hands at full forward. Harley clunked most things that came his way, and his work along with smalls such as Tom Davey put the Moe defence under constant pressure.

The Power got out to a 33-point lead at the last change and looked set to complete a comfortable enough victory.

Moe threw tall defender Declan Keilty forward in the last and the

Lions stayed in with a fighting chance until the clock ticked over to time-on.

Like the third quarter, the ball stayed at the Can Bar end for the last, but the home team was unable to convert some gettable chances in the first 10 minutes, meaning by the time they did straighten up it was a case of too-little-too-late.

Despite only kicking one behind for the term, Wonthaggi never really looked like getting beaten, and had the game wrapped up with a 23 point lead before Moe kicked two goals deep into time on to cut the margin to 11 points.

Lions defender Charlie Rieniets was voted best on ground, along with Keilty and Harri Sim who just tried and tried all day. Heart and soul ruckman Ben Morrow was also in the best players, as was Grady Cocksedge and Lucas Forato.

Harley finished with four goals to be the visitors best. Steven Scott and Josh Bates also played well.

Wonthaggi has now beaten both teams in the top three and is continuing its path as a contender for this years title.

Remarkably, the Power did not even think the Gippsland League was the best fit for the club less than two years ago after requesting a move to the West Gippsland Football-Netball competition.

Since then, favourite son Jarryd Blair has returned home to coach and has clearly brought a great deal of knowledge from his 157-game AFL career.

While the arrival of a high profile coach such as Blair can often carry thoughts of them wielding a magic wand of some sort, the former Collingwood player seems to have simply developed a system that works for the local players he has at his disposal.

To Wonthaggi and Blair’s credit, of the 22 players that took the field on the weekend, 16 played for the Power in the 2019 season when they didn’t make finals, while the remaining spots are filled with players you would consider Wonthaggi locals such as Blair, his brother Jack and a sprinkling of others that have returned to the club.

TRARALGON won its eight-point game against Drouin.

The Maroons broke away from the Hawks after half-time to win 18.9 (117) to 11.8 (74) at Morwell.

Traralgon led at every change, but had to hold off a persistent Drouin for the most part who refused to surrender.

The game was by no means over at three quarter time, but six goals to three in favour of the Maroons in the last made sure of the result.

Traralgon will be pleased with its last two weeks, as the young side has compiled a win over

Maffra after being challenged, and now a four quarter display against Drouin.

All this has come with the Maroons having to train away from home as their deck is still under repair, which speaks volumes of the squad’s character and resilience to just get on with the job.

Full forwards at either end returned bags of goals for their team. Traralgon playing-coach Jake Best slotted five and Michael Theodoridis got the same for the visitors.

Maroons midfielder Matt Northe was sublime, kicking four goals in a best on ground display. Jackson McMahon also played well for the winners, as did pressure forward Jeffrey McDonald, Daniel Reid, Jacob Van Iwaarden (three goals) and Tye Hourigan.

Best for Drouin was Ed Morris, Bob McCallum and Ryan Taylor.

MORWELL became the first team to loss to Warragul this season.

The Tigers found themselves short at the finish, going down 11.4 (70) to 9.12 (66).

Playing at Western Park, the Gulls made the early running on their home ground, kicking the only two goals of the opening quarter.

Warragul really opened the game up in the second, slamming on six goals to take a scarcely believable 33-point lead into the main break.

Morwell hit back in the third, and cut the margin to 13 points with one quarter to play.

With the chance to sing the song for the first time since 2019 in the palm of their hands, the Gulls hung on for dear life as the siren sounded to signal a four-point win and put weeks of heartache behind them.

Joyous scenes erupted in the Warragul rooms as the theme song was belted out post-game to officially mark what was one more win than some people in the Gippsland League thought the Gulls would actually achieve this season.

Brayden Fowler kicked five goals for the victors and young gun Will Cole finished with four. Sean Masterson, Sam Whibley and Tyrone Winder stood out.

Warragul will take confidence out of this performance, even more so as it was without star player Tom Hobbs.

Tyler Brown and Josh Galea were again in the best for Morwell, while Anthony Rosato, Max Linton, Brandon McAuliffe and Kuiy Jiath played well.

SALE was well beaten by Leongatha.

The Magpies only kicked five goals at Sale Oval as the Parrots won 14.11 (95) to 5.14 (44).

An even first quarter was followed by a four goal to none second term in favour of Leongatha.

It was the same story in the third as the Parrots again kept Sale goalless and added four of their own.

Holding a 51-point lead at three-quarter time, Leongatha ran out the game and kept that same margin when the game ended.

Cameron Stone, Chris Verboon and Jackson Harry were best on for the winners.

Will Leslie, Jonti McGuiness and Jackson Glenane put in honest efforts for Sale.

Those watching the early game may have been surprised to see Aaron Hillberg line-up for Leongatha in the reserves.

The depth of the Parrots this season looks to be quite exceptional, and one would imagine a player of Hillberg’s quality will have to come back into the seniors at some stage.

Considering the margin of Leongatha’s win over a top four team in Sale and the fact the Parrots beat Wonthaggi by five goals three weeks ago, it would seem the message is simple: if you’re going to win the flag – you’re going to have to get past Leongatha.

MAFFRA got a much needed win over Bairnsdale.

The Eagles withstood a spirited Redlegs outfit to return home from East Gippsland with the points after a 12.10 (82) to 10.11 (71) victory.

The combatants played out a very even game, as the highest margin at any of the breaks was just 11 points. Coincidently, Bairnsdale was ahead by 11 points at quarter time, but Maffra was ahead by the same margin when it mattered most.

Ed Carr was best for the Eagles and Kieran Vickery best for the Redlegs.