Intensity building in race to finals

TRARALGON must defeat Bairnsdale on Saturday if it wants to remain secure in the Gippsland League’s top five.

“It’s a huge game and it’s pretty obvious that they (Bairnsdale) are going to come down and treat it as a final and we need to do the same,” Traralgon coach Paul McCulloch said.

“We don’t want to be fighting for a finals spot come the end of the season, so we need to break away from them now.”

The Redlegs proved once again last week, when they defeated highly-fancied opponent Morwell, they can match it with the competition’s heavyweights.

However, the Maroons were also fresh from a hard fought win over the much improved Moe.

“We get a week off next week so we really need to improve and finish off this block of games with a win,” McCulloch said.

Taking into account its absence from the competition, Bairnsdale has not won at Traralgon in three decades; its last win there was a two-point thriller in 1983.

A win would see the Redlegs on equal points and percentage behind the Maroons.

Michael Geary and Darren White are expected to return to the Maroons’ line-up while former Australian Football League player Nick Stevens is available for a third consecutive week, depending on his commitments coaching Gippsland Power.

Morwell v Maffra

THE man at the helm of Morwell believes the match against Maffra will be “season defining”.

“I guess it will show us both where we are at,” Tigers coach Harmit Singh said.

“Maffra played unbelievable football last weekend and it just showed how potent they are in attack.”

Singh’s team will have to shut down supply to the Eagles’ key forward Darren Sheen, who kicked 17 goals in last weekend’s 213-point win over Drouin.

Sheen was held to five goals in the Eagles’ 20-point loss to the Tigers in the first half of the year.

“Jack Brown started on him and then we moved Jason Stevens onto him… someone will get that job,” Singh said.

“He’s a good player and he will get his goals, we just need to try and limit the supply.”

Despite its shock loss last week, the Tigers will take plenty of confidence into the round 14 clash after defeating the Eagles earlier in the season.

If victorious, Morwell will go two games clear and put Maffra back on equal games with Traralgon and Wonthaggi.

Sale v Moe

Moe’s young, but improved Lions will face their biggest test when they travel to Sale to take on the reigning premier.

The Magpies were back to their best against Warragul last week and had the four points in the bag by half-time.

If history is anything to go by Sale is a firm favourite, it has won its past four encounters with Moe by a comfortable 91, 113, 49 and 141 points.

The Magpies’ most recent win against the Lions featured a 10-goal haul from Mitch Davis, the most goals since Brad Wynd’s 11 in 1997.

Wonthaggi v Warragul

After a disappointing loss to Leongatha, Wonthaggi must defeat Warragul to stay in touch with the top three.

The shock loss saw the Power drop from third to fifth.

Since returning to the Gippsland League in 2010, Wonthaggi has won five of its seven matches against Warragul.

The Power’s biggest win came in round five this year, when it defeated the Gulls by 70 points.

After winning seven on the trot, Wonthaggi has since lost three-in-a-row, with inaccuracy a major factor in its past two matches.

Warragul showed plenty of promise last week, when it worked its way back into the match against Sale after being outplayed by the reigning premier in the first-half.

Drouin v Leongatha

Leongatha will be looking to make it three consecutive wins for the first time this year when it travels to Drouin to take on the Hawks.

The Parrots are coming off victories against Maffra and Wonthaggi.

Leongatha has won 11 of its 14 senior matches at Drouin, including eight of the past 10.

The Hawks on the other hand were on the wrong side of the biggest score in the competition this year, going down by a mammoth 213 points to Maffra.