MAFFRA set up a mouth-watering grand final with fierce rivals Sale after hanging on to beat Leongatha by one point in a Gippsland Legague thriller on Saturday.
While Eagles’ supporters were jubilant after the victory they kept asking the question “how did we win that one?”
In an entertaining game the scores were close in the second half after the Parrots held a 12-point lead at quarter time and 16 at the long break.
Maffra were carrying a number of passengers in the first half but a few well chosen words from playing coach Hayden Burgiel saw the Eagles cut the lead to two points at the 13-minute mark of the third quarter.
Leongatha led by a point at the last change but Maffra was back in front four minutes into the final term.
The Parrots had their chances and got away by nine points and it looked like they may hang on as it took Maffra 15 minutes to post its next score with Alex Carr’s fourth goal.
Adrian Burgiel, who went off the ground shortly before three-quarter time after a collision with team-mate Ben Batalha, came back to mark 40 metres out on an acute angle.
Burgiel kicked a short pass to an unguarded Daniel Bedggood who made no mistake from 25 metres to take a point lead.
Leongatha went into attack and Nick Phelan had the chance to score for the Parrots outside 50, ignoring a teammate on his own 30 metres out.
Phelan’s kick fell centimetres short of the line and the Maffra defence rushed it to safety with the siren sounding seconds later.
Hayden Burgiel (21 possessions), Gary Jones (22), Ben Coleman (22) and Kelvin Porter (27) were great for the Eagles while Adrian Burgiel kicked five and Alex Carr four.
Dwayne Holt was a standout for the Parrots with eight goals but it was not enough to give them the chance to play Sale in the grand final.
David Gourdis was strong in defence while Zac Vernon and Julian Stone were busy in the midfield.
Leongatha was by no means disgraced but after kicking 13.2 finished with a disappointing 2.6 in the final term.
Morwell reserves were bundled out of the finals race when Leongatha finished fast to win by 21 points.
Julian Blackford, Braydon Darby-Lock and Ben Quinn were best for the Tigers and Steve Tobin Junior kicked four goals.
Coaches named for 2013
Traralgon and Morwell have announced Paul McCulloch and Harmit Singh, respectively, as their coaches for next season.
This year McCulloch assisted his brother Sam at Yinnar and is a former Traralgon and Morwell great who kicked 699 career goals.
Singh is a 25 year-old midfielder from Castlemaine and is a former Victorian Football League player with the Bendigo Bombers and Collingwood.
He currently holds a position at the Collingwood Football Club as a community development officer
Warragul has appointed Ash Green, Leongatha Will Thursfield and Moe has held on to Jason Macfarlane.
Grand finalists Sale and Maffra are expected to retain Matt Ferguson and Hayden Burgiel while Drouin and Bairnsdale have yet to make appointments.
Wonthaggi is yet to replace Leigh MacDonald who has been appointed joint coach at Churchill with Tim Darby.
Former coach Paul Brosnan, who led runners up Dalyston to Kilcunda Bass this season, is the front runner.
Trood Award and Rodda Medal
Tonight’s Trood Award and Rodda medal is the most open for years and several players could win without surprising.
Best chances from the clubs include Kelvin Porter (Maffra), Josh Jennings (Traralgon), Jason Dessent, Kane Martin (Sale), Robert Michaelides, Joel Soutar (Morwell), James Blaser (Moe), Lucas White (Wonthaggi), Pat McGrath (Drouin), Zac Vernon, Tas Clingan (Leongatha) Luke Dyer (Bairnsdale) and Ben Hughes (Warragul)