Traralgon conquers coachless clash

IT was a coachless clash when Traralgon met Drouin in round 12 of the Gippsland League on Saturday but the Maroons showed no lack of direction in a 91-point victory.

With Traralgon’s Mark Collison and his Hawks counterpart Bob McCallum on Victoria Country duty both sides were without their talismanic playing-coaches for the important duel.

Traralgon’s game plan did not suffer for the lack of its chief enforcer, as the Maroons buried the game by half-time.

Round 11 fourth quarter hero Lee Stockdale was again up to the task and led all scorers with half-a-dozen majors to be named among the best.

The forward line leader said little changed in Collison’s absence as the side looked to put together a complete performance after coming under fire against Moe last week.

“Not much changed with him being out. We had a few (personal) changes this week and a couple of guys came in so there was a lot of energy around the group,” Stockdale said.

“We just wanted to put a four-quarter performance together; obviously the week before Moe really pushed us and it took a while to get going.

“Before that we’d lost to Leongatha when we probably played two-and-a-half good quarters of footy.

“To play three really strong quarters was good and we sort of fell away a bit in the last quarter but the damage had been done.”

Traralgon captain Jackson Hall returned from injury along with Tim Johnston, while Tyler Mustoe and Dean Pearce excelled in their first senior games with a goal and best on ground votes respectively.

It was all systems go for the hosts from the opening bounce as Traralgon darted away to a 24-point advantage at the first break with six majors for the quarter.

The Maroon onslaught continued in the second as 5.1 (31) was added while keeping the hapless Hawks scoreless to half-time.

With a 55-point lead Traralgon continued to press and bombed away at the sticks with 13 scoring shots for a return of 6.7 (43) while Drouin again went goalless in a 0.3 (3) slump.

The Hawks came to life in the last to outscore Traralgon but it was all in vain as they succumbed to a 21.15 (141) to 7.8 (50) loss.

“We were just able to control the footy for the first three quarters, build a big lead by three-quarter-time and then the last quarter just sort of fizzled out a bit,” Stockdale said.

“We tried not to change too much and we were able to get the job done and some boys stepped up in Collo’s absence.”

Eleven goals in the past two weeks has elevated Stockdale to second on the competition goal kicking table.

The small-forward said his job was being made easy by great service.

“I’m getting looked after down there a little bit; there’s some good entries coming in and I’m just lucky to get on the end of them I think,” he said.

“All the boys up the ground are putting on good pressure and someone’s got to get them.

“Our whole focus on a forward line is our defensive pressure first and once we get the footy just trying to hit up the ball carrier, get on the lead and if we get an inside 50 try to make the most of our opportunities.”

Third-placed Traralgon has at least temporarily made up ground on ladder leaders Leongatha and Maffra, after the top two clash was washed out.

In other round 12 encounters Warragul showed up Bairnsdale away from home with a 25-point victory and Wonthaggi Power fended off a stern challenge from Sale to record a seven-point win at home.

In yesterday’s Sunday game Moe was far too strong for Morwell and cantered to a 13.16 (94) to 6.11 (47) triumph.