Ben Ainsworth *chatted with the coaches of Latrobe Valley’s three Gippsland League teams about their thoughts on the 2015 season so far and the prospects of finals football.
MORWELL captain-coach Joel Soutar has full confidence in his playing group in their bid to make an appearance come September.
It’s safe to say the reigning premiers have struggled this season in comparison to their back-to-back premiership seasons of 2013/14, however the Tigers still have the opportunity to grant themselves a finals berth in 2015.
Sitting seventh on the Gippsland League table, Morwell has won just six of its 14 games this season in its aspiration of a ‘three-peat’.
Despite the form of the Tigers in recent weeks, the run home is somewhat appealing with all winnable games ahead of them.
However, Soutar believes it will be “tough”.
“We’re going to have to beat both Leongatha and Traralgon who are in great form, so we are going to have to play some really good footy to make fifth spot, but we will back the boys in,” Soutar said.
The Tigers face Drouin at Drouin for round 15.
TIGERS’ RUN HOME
Round 15 (AWAY) v Drouin
Last time: 10.14 (74) v 15.8 (98) loss
Round 16 (HOME) v Bairnsdale
Last time: 13.11 (89) v 9.8 (62) win
Round 17 (HOME) v Traralgon
Last time: 9.13 (67) v 13.8 (86) loss
Round 18 (AWAY) v Leongatha
Last time: 10.10 (70) v 16.13 (109) loss
TRARALGON playing coach Mark Collison has been relatively happy with the Maroons’ 2015 performance, but still believes there is room for improvement.
“We’re trying to improve the way we move the footy as well as creating depth among the group,” Collison said.
“We have put a plan in place and are trying to execute it as well as we can.”
Suggesting the Maroons could perhaps make an impact on the 2015 Gippsland League finals, the experienced leader is confident his team will be able to withhold the fierce competition surrounding the top five.
However, Collison is focused solely on his own team’s performance.
“It’s about putting respect into the opposition, but for us it’s what we can control and focus on as a team,” Collison said.
With many showing their contention for the grand prize this season, Collison believes Maffra is the “benchmark” of the competition with a few key players who display terrific ball-use as a team.
“We certainly respect them, but we don’t fear them,” Collison said.
Sitting third on the Gippsland League table, the Maroons are serious contenders this year after missing out narrowly on a finals appearance in 2014. They will be determined to travel deep into September. Traralgon will meet Wongthaggi at home.
MAROONS’ RUN HOME
Round 15 (HOME) v Wonthaggi
Last time: 10.7 (67) v 12.7 (79) loss
Round 16 (HOME) v Maffra
Last time: 11.6 (72) v 11.10 (76) loss
Round 17 (AWAY) v Morwell
Last time: 13.8 (86) v 9.13 (67) win
Round 18 (HOME) v Warragul
Last time: 25.13 (163) v 4.4 (28) win
MOE may realistically be out of finals contention, unless it can win its final four matches and other results go its way, but coach Adrian Burgiel remains optimistic.
“Overall I’m happy with the year; we have shown signs of improvement,” Burgiel said.
“We are just letting ourselves down in crucial games.”
The Lions are languishing in ninth position, with only Warragul sitting beneath them, and the task ahead does not get any easier.
This week Moe meets in-form ladder leaders Maffra.
However, Burgiel plans to use the encounter against the Eagles as an experience-building exercise for his youngsters.
“We had 12 kids aged under 19 in the one game, including Mitch Stanlake, Bryce Collings and Jayden Van Dyk, and they will work well for us in the future,” he said.
“We are trying to win a few games as well as gaining some experience from teams like Maffra.
“We have a couple of wins on the boards and hopefully we finish strongly.”
Moe will head to Maffra for round 15.
Round 15 (AWAY) v Maffra
Last time: 10.7 (67) v 11.21 (87) loss
Round 16 (HOME) v Leongatha
Last time: 4.5 (29) v 9.17 (71) loss
Round 17 (AWAY) v Sale
Last time: 13.15 (93) v 8.18 (66) win
Round 18 (HOME) v Bairnsdale
Last time: 16.10 (106) v 17.10 (112) loss