Another tough week ahead

The Gippsland League is gearing up for a second all-Latrobe Valley clash in as many weeks with Moe to host Traralgon in round 13.

The visiting team has two additional reasons to be confident, with their two newest recruits, former Carlton and Port Adelaide player Nick Stevens and former TTU forward Tim Aitkin, expected to line up for the Maroons for a second consecutive week.

“(Stevens) is expected to play the next two for us based on his availability around Gippsland Power,” Maroons coach Paul McCulloch said.

Traralgon may be fresh from back-to-back victories, however it will not take the much-improved Lions for granted.

“It was good to get two-in-a-row and another win at home, but we just need to continue to play the footy we want to play,” McCulloch said, who holds the record for the most goals kicked by Traralgon against Moe; he booted 14 in 1997.

Moe may have copped a 183-point thrashing from Morwell last week, however with the Tigers bolstered by a 13-goal contribution by former Collingwood stars Anthony Rocca and Tarkyn Lockyer, the Lions are taking the result with a grain of salt.

“I think we are better than that; we just lost our way,” Moe coach Jason MacFarlane said.

“Leigh Sheehan was forced out of the game with a corked hip and we had no way to stop Rocca.

“We will stick to our game plan and I am hopeful we will improve on last week.

“We will try and pick up where we left off in the first quarter last week.”

Moe’s David Crook is expected to get the job on Stevens.

“It will be a good learning curve for him,” MacFarlane said.

“We have given him a role to follow some of the better footballers and as a result he has started to get some more of the ball himself.”

Until last week Moe had been more than competitive in its past five matches, including its first win of the season over Drouin in round 11.

However, history is against the much improved Lions – Traralgon has won eight of its past nine encounters with Moe.

The Maroons’ only loss in that period came in 2011 and against all odds when Moe booted nine unanswered goals to came back from 30 points down to win by 23 points.

Since then Traralgon has won by 65, 84 and 142 points.

And the Maroons must continue to win to keep their finals hopes alive, however, they have been plagued by injuries.

Last weekend Traralgon played four footballers from its thirds, while after being called up from the under 16s, Connor Ambler made his senior football debut.

Bairnsdale v Morwell

Morwell’s 183-point win over Moe last weekend was the highest score by any Gippsland League since 2006 and the highest total by a Tiger side since 1997.

However, the second-placed Morwell will be without its two star recruits Rocca and Lockyer when it travels to Bairnsdale to take on the Redlegs.

And its opponent has plenty of reasons to win.

Bairnsdale is just one game and eight percentage points outside the Gippsland League’s top five.

The home team will take some confidence from its past encounter with Morwell.

Despite losing the first three quarters, the Redlegs kicked six of their 10 goals in an impressive last quarter in their round four encounter at Morwell.

Warragul v Sale

Having conceded just one match for the year, ladder leaders Sale will travel to Warragul to take on the Gulls.

The reigning premiers have a good record there, having won 10 of its past 11 matches dating back to 1998, including the past six.

Warragul has been one of the biggest improvers in 2013 and held Sale to just a 16-point margin earlier this year.

Wonthaggi v Leongatha

In Wonthaggi’s most recent encounter with Leongatha it posted its first away win against the Parrots in more than a decade.

Since then the Power’s 2013 campaign has gone from strength to strength.

It has made its mark as one of the teams to beat in 2013.

However, Leongatha’s win over Maffra last week was a confidence booster for the Parrots, who have been plagued by injury and illness.

Maffra v Drouin

Maffra and Drouin have produced many entertaining battles, none more so than the 2010 grand final.

Both teams will be coming off a loss when they face off in Maffra.

Drouin suffered its biggest ever defeat at the hands of Bairnsdale, while Maffra conceded a shock loss to Leongatha.

The Eagles are under increasing pressure to win to stay in touch with the top three, a position which guarantees a second chance come finals.

Drouin does not have a good record on the road against Maffra – it has won there just once in 2009.