Traralgon has advanced to the Gippsland League first semi-final against Leongatha with an uninspiring 21-point win over fierce rivals Morwell, but it could come at a big cost.
Star full-forward Dan McKenna was knocked out and carried off the field in the final quarter after clashing heavily with teammate Jesse Bird and Morwell’s Tom Crosby in a marking contest.
Play was held up for more than five minutes until trainers felt it was safe to move him.
He was stretchered off wearing a neck brace and recovered once back in the rooms, however he could be doubtful for the game against the Parrots.
Morwell’s injured brigade of Jack Brown, Adam Bailey, Mannon Johnston and Devon Soutar all took their place on the field but had no impact on the match.
This match also marked Tigers coach Damian Kerr’s last at the helm, after he announced he would not seek re-appointment next season due to work and personal commitments.
After an even first quarter Traralgon took control in the second quarter kicking six goals to a single Morwell goal kicked at the 28-minute mark by Boyd Bailey.
Traralgon’s Joe Caldwell marked strongly in this term and kicked 2.2 to open up the Morwell defence.
It looked as though the Maroons were ready to take the game away from the Tigers, but Morwell responded well in the second quarter.
It was Traralgon’s turn to make errors, but the Tigers could only kick three goals to two for their effort.
When Rob Michaelides kicked the first goal of the final quarter the Tigers began to look dangerous but Lee Stockdale and Rohan Hildebrand steadied the Maroons with timely goals.
Morwell captain Joel Soutar tried his heart out all day but both sides were carrying a few passengers.
Other players to be noticed were Tom Crosby and teenagers Boyd and Brandon Bailey.
In a game that never reached inspiring heights Lee Stockdale was probably Traralgon’s most consistent on the day and Hildebrand continues to show a lot of promise on the wing.
Morwell’s season is now over but injuries to key players did not help its cause and a new coach will have plenty of talent to work on.
Maffra stormed back as a genuine grand final challenger to Sale with an emphatic 88-point win over Leongatha at Morwell on Saturday.
This week the Eagles meet the Magpies in the second semi-final at Traralgon, while Leongatha has the chance for redemption against Traralgon at Moe on Sunday.
The Eagles started to take control of the match late in the second quarter, in a match that had a bit of ill feeling.
Adrian Burgiel gave a vintage display at full-forward with eight goals and he had plenty of support from Daniel Bedggood with four and Alex Carr, Brent Connelly and Jack Tatterson kicking three each.
Leongatha started the game on a positive note when Julian Stone kicked the first within a minute of the start.
It was a team lifting goal as they were held goalless against Sale in the last home and away match.
Dwayne Holt soon followed with his first of four and the Parrots led by 12 points, but when Alex Carr kicked Maffra’s first the Eagles led by a point at the first break.
Up until then play was riddled with skill errors and poor disposal but the game lifted after that as the Eagles began to find its legs.
By half-time Maffra was using the ball efficiently and it showed on the scoreboard.
The Parrots’ defenders were under intense pressure and had trouble getting the ball out of the half-back line.
Tempers flared in the third quarter and Holt was lucky his number was not taken after a clash which left Daniel O’Brien in the hands of the trainers and taken off the field.
Maffra’s 10-goal last quarter was what coach Hayden Burgiel would have enjoyed and Bedggood who played well all day finished the game off in style.