A couple of surprise results in the opening round made Mid Gippsland Football League fans stand up and notice.
Thorpdale came from behind in a mad dash to defeat Boolarra by three points and, in another nail-biter, Mirboo North led all day to knock off 2015 runners-up Yallourn-Yallourn North.
The Bombers were behind by 29 points at three-quarter-time but clawed back to within seven at the siren.
Yinnar whipped up a storm to hammer Trafalgar by 85 points, as did Newborough over Morwell East to the tune of 65 points.
Yarragon was the big winner with a 67 point margin over Hill End.
A powerful Newborough side proved how strong it will be in 2016 by pushing away Morwell East in a canter.
The first quarter wasn’t much to rave about and neither side could put much on the scoreboard.
Played in perfect conditions at Ronald Reserve both sides appeared lacklustre as they miskicked, dropped marks and played terrible football.
Newborough shook itself off after the first break and started to gain control; goals to Luke Mulqueen and Anthony Rosato within two minutes of the second had the Dogs roaring and by quarter’s end Newborough were in a healthy position.
They had six goals on the board before the East scored their first.
Morwell East had a better third term, holding back the Doggies, but in the final quarter Newborough added a further five goals to run out winners 15.11 (101) to Morwell East’s 4.12 (36).
For Newborough Joel Mitchell and Matt Dennison scored three each with the best players being Rosato, Mulqueen, Rob Wilson and newcomer Evan Price.
For the East none tried harder than Brandon Francis, Matt Cunningham and Jarrod Lont.
IT promised to be the match of the round it delivered as ‘underdog’ Mirboo North turned the tables on the more fancied YYN.
The Bombers had been runners-up last year and defeated Mirboo North in the preliminary final so big things were expected with good recruits coming on board.
The Tigers slipped under the radar and led at every break to give the YYN brains trust a headache.
Mirboo North, under new coach Clancy Bennett, put in a top pre-season and pushed fitness as the main asset.
The team responded to Bennett’s call and made YYN look tired at times.
One player the Tigers missed was 807 goal veteran Tim Traill, who decided to hang up his golden boots, but even without the champion the Tigers were able to score quickly.
Five goals ahead at three-quarter-time it was almost a walk away bet but YYN coach Adam Bailey threw down the gauntlet.
The Bombers produced their best term for the day and it was only the siren that saved Mirboo North from a late charge.
With 11 shots to four in the final term the Bombers had their chances but inaccuracy was their downfall as Mirboo North held on to win 13.11 (89) to 11.16 (82).
For the Bombers Tom Hutton kicked three while their best were Tyler Brown, Shaun Galea, Bailey and Dylan Bath.
It will be far from panic stations at YYN, which went undefeated through the regular season after dropping its first match in 2015.
THORPDALE came from behind to snatch a three point victory Boolarra in a tight match which the Demons led at every break.
Boolarra led at first by 11 points, six at half-time and six again at three-quarter-time but in the last Thorpdale found the X-factor to forge ahead and take the game by three points.
It was encouraging for rookie Thorpdale coach Nick Brown to see his side fight back after losing so many players from last season.
It was not a day for forwards but Luke Conway kicked three for Boolarra as did interchange player Jacob Vuillerman of Thorpdale.
A 3.4 (22) to 2.1 (13) last term made all the difference to Thorpdale in the final tally as the Blues won 11.12 (78) to Boolarra’s 11.9 (75).
For Thorpdale Trent Gibson in defence proved a good player as did Shannon Pickering and Zack O’Connell.
Matt Windsor, Lee Conway and Vince Corbet were best for the despondent Demons.
WITH about a third of the team filled by new recruits the Yarragon Panthers showed early form to get over the top of Hill End in a one-sided affair.
Yarragon pressured early and had most of the play as new face Tim Milner showed passages of brilliance to bring the Panthers to the fore, while Tim Farthing’s defence kept Hill End out of the match.
By the first break Yarragon had settled into a free flowing style to lead by 18 points.
Hill End had no counter and often lagged behind as Yarragon took control.
A further four goals to two in the second term gave Yarragon a healthy outlook by half-time.
Nick Pratt, Mitch Jolly and newcomer Damien Mann were dangerous forwards but were held well by Hill End in the third.
However the Hillmen failed to make progress on the scoreboard as the Panthers closed up shop.
The game was all over by three-quarter-time but Yarragon still stepped up and banged home six goals in a last quarter frenzy to run out 16.13 (115) to 6.6 (42) winners.
Pratt, Mann and Jolly scored three each while for the Hillmen Ian Ketchen kicked two goals.
Up to 15 Trafalgar senior players were missing from last year’s list against a similarly fresh faced premier Yinnar.
The Magpies also lost a bevy of good players but recruiting and strong juniors filling in made Yinnar look like premiership material again.
It took a while for the Magpies to break the shackles as Trafalgar proved more competitive than expected; by the first break the Magpies held a slender one point lead.
The second term was all Yinnar as the premier started to dominate.
Slamming Sammy Mills, who came out of retirement to play, was a leading possession winner and goal sneak but on-baller Jaime Aitken won all the praise for his effective disposal skills.
Yinnar’s 6.2 (38) to 2.1 (13) second term established a good lead by the long break.
Trafalgar still had no counter but Matt Robertson stood tall on the forward line to keep Trafalgar in the match, kicking five from a team total of seven.
By three-quarter-time Yinnar was cruising and drove the boot in the last term with another 6.3 (39) while keeping Trafalgar to a miserly two behinds.
The final score was Yinnar 20.10 (130) to Trafalgar 7.3 (45).
Brayden Wilson chipped in for four goals for Yinnar and Mills scored five but was relegated to fifth best.
Aitken, Brayden Wilson, Jamie Winters and Kane Grinstead-Jones all received votes while for Trafalgar James Taylor, Robertson, Brendan Dawson and Jamie Hines were best.