Warragul faces gauntlet ahead of finals football

BIG improver Warragul has taken up tenancy in the Gippsland League top five but has a gauntlet ahead to avoid eviction.

Currently fourth on the table, equal on points with fifth-placed Wonthaggi and two points clear of Drouin in sixth, the Gulls have drawn all top three sides in the final four rounds.

The precarious run home begins with the impervious ladder leader Leongatha this weekend, followed by fixtures against Sale (8th), Traralgon (3rd) and Maffra (2nd).

Coach Steven Kidd is trying to block out the noise of the mid-table traffic and guide his young side through the rabble one week at a time, starting with the Parrots.

“We’ve got the top three sides out of the last four. I’m just trying to put finals out of our mind and try to concentrate on week-in, week-out and try to keep improving,” Kidd said.

“We’re just looking forward to the challenge (of Leongatha). In a way it’s a nothing-to-lose type game for us whereas the last four or five games there’s been something on the line so there’s been added pressure there.

“This one we can go into and just play our game without being worried at all about the result, just let it take care of itself.”

That said Kidd was not about to lay down in the face of the all-conquering side of 2016.

He vowed to give Leongatha, which won the corresponding round six encounter by 76 points, a run for its money come Saturday at Western Park.

“We need to just have a go; try to move the ball fast ourselves, not go into our shells. We know they’re a pretty fit, big-bodied group so I’d just like to see us take the game on a bit as well,” Kidd said.

“The big thing is just to try and put as much pressure on their ball movement as possible, that’ll be a bit of a focus.

“We know they’re pretty slick so as soon as the ball turns over we need to be able to find a man and put that extra, added pressure on and try to create a few turnovers.”

Warragul has form on its side after toppling a fellow top five side, Wonthaggi, at the weekend in boggy conditions on home soil.

The low-scoring victory pushed the Gulls above the Power on percentage in a huge boost to its finals hopes.

“It was huge. It was going to be a hard slog but we just had to chip away at it, do all the right things and play good wet weather footy,” Kidd said.

“I harked on it to our group that we hear a lot that we’re young and up and coming, but it’s probably time we threw that out the window, stop thinking about it and get the job done, and to the guys’ credit they did.”

A vastly improved side in 2016, Kidd said Warragul’s growth came largely down to application.

Progression has been a by-product of doing the little things right.

Training and recovery have been a focus.

Senior leaders have stepped up in those regards and the rest have followed suit.

“Some of the young kids have improved that 10 per cent which we’re looking for and if we can get another 10 per cent out of them next year we’re going to improve again,” Kidd said.

The Gulls have injury clouds hovering over Dylan Proctor and Amburupa Uliando for the big round 15 clash.

IF ever Moe needed to do what Drouin did a fortnight ago, that is, score a home win over Maffra, it’s this weekend.

Win, lose or draw, Maffra is safe in the final five, while Moe must make every post a winner in this last month of home and away football.

The Eagles have won their past nine games against the Lions, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, winning each game by an average margin of 61 points.

Moe’s final quarters have been a worry throughout the season and they’ll need a full four quarter effort to knock off the Eagles.

IF recent trends count for anything Wonthaggi has a good shot at knocking over reigning premier Traralgon at home this weekend.

The past five games between Wonthaggi and Traralgon have been home team wins, although one of those was the drawn 2014 match at Traralgon.

While Traralgon’s place in the five is not in jeopardy, and its superior percentage acts as another win in that respect, this is not a time for cruising into the finals.

None of the last eight games between these teams has been won by more than 22 points, with the average margin 12.5.

BOTH Bairnsdale and Sale are clinging on to fading finals hopes, although the fortunes of both have been travelling in different directions in the past month.

Bairnsdale scored a great win over Sale in round six when they visited the nest and returned home with a 31-point victory to their credit, their first win at Sale since 1994, and just their second at that venue since 1984.

Injury and the unavailability of key personnel have cruelled both teams’ seasons, but a win on Saturday would be heartily celebrated.

MORWELL and Drouin’s clash earlier this year resulted in the first drawn match between the two in their 48th meeting.

The Hawks led by two goals at the three-quarter-time break before Morwell stormed home to be seven points ahead in the dying minutes of the game.

Drouin rallied and scored a goal, then a tight shot from near the boundary struck the goal post to level the scores and the siren sounded seconds later.

Drouin is pressing hard for a spot in the five and must overcome Morwell to keep its chances alive.

The Tigers will be a difficult task for the Hawks on their home turf.

Warragul v Leongatha

(1934-53 (CGFL), 1969-99, 2005-2016)

All matches: Played 127 Warragul 46, Leongatha 78, drawn 3

At Warragul: Played 58 Warragul 30, Leongatha 26, drawn 2

Last 10 matches: Warragul 2, Leongatha 8

Last win at Warragul: Warragul 2013, Leongatha 2015

Last 5 years at Warragul: Warragul 2, Leongatha 3

Last three matches

2015 (W) Leongatha 22.12 (144) d Warragul 11.10 (76)

2015 (L) Leongatha 22.24 (156) d Warragul 3.1 (19)

2016 (L) Leongatha 16.16 (112) d Warragul 5.6 (36)

Present winning sequence: Leongatha 6

Highest scores: Warragul 25.16 (166) (1993), Leongatha 27.11 (173) (2011)

Lowest scores: Warragul 2.4 (16) (1987), Leongatha 2.8 (20) (1994)

Greatest winning margin: Warragul 123 (2006), Leongatha 120 (2011)

Most goals (match): Warragul 14 S. Byrne (1989): Leongatha 11 A. Campbell (1997), N. Nagel (2011)

Moe v Maffra

(1960 – 2016)

All matches: Played 123 Moe 57, Maffra 66

At Moe: Played 57 Moe 33, Maffra 24

Last 10 matches: Moe 1, Maffra 9

Last win at Moe: Moe 2011, Maffra 2015

Last 5 years at Moe: Moe 1, Maffra 4

Last three matches

2015 (Moe) Maffra 11.21 (87) d Moe 10.7 (67)

2015 (Ma) Maffra 18.16 (124) d Moe 10.5 (65)

2016 (Ma) Maffra 17.14 (116) d Moe 10.9 (69)

Present winning sequence: Maffra 9

Highest scores: Moe 27.18 (180) (1993), Maffra 34.24 (228) (2004)

Lowest scores: Moe 3.4 (22) (2004 & 2014), Maffra 3.6 (24) (1968 & 1974)

Greatest winning margin: Moe 116 (1978), Maffra 206 (2004)

Most goals (match): Moe 12 I. Jennings (1968): Maffra 12 P. Neville (1982)

Wonthaggi v Traralgon

(1995 – 2004, 2010 – 2016)

All matches: Played 41 Wonthaggi 15, Traralgon 23, drawn 3

At Wonthaggi: Played 19 Wonthaggi 9, Traralgon 8, drawn 2

Last 10 matches: Wonthaggi 4, Traralgon 5, drawn 1

Last win at Wonthaggi: Wonthaggi 2015, Traralgon 2013

Last 5 years at Wonthaggi: Wonthaggi 2, Traralgon 3

Last three matches

2015 (W) Wonthaggi 12.7 (79) d Traralgon 10.7 (67)

2015 (T) Traralgon 8.6 (54) d Wonthaggi 6.10 (46)

2016 (T) Traralgon 13.10 (88) d Wonthaggi 11.4 (70)

Present winning sequence: Traralgon 2

Highest scores: Wonthaggi 21.23 (149) (2004), Traralgon 32.14 (206) (1998)

Lowest scores: Wonthaggi 2.3 (15) (1999 2nd Semi), Traralgon 8.5 (53) (2000)

Greatest winning margin: Wonthaggi 76 (2004), Traralgon 132 (1998)

Most goals (match): Wonthaggi 6 C. Whelan (2000), A. Seccull (2001), R. Gilliatte (2003), G. Noonan (2004): Traralgon 8 T. Aitken (2010)

Bairnsdale v Sale

(GFL 1901-53, GL 1960-98, 2011- 2016)

All matches: Played 240 Bairnsdale 104, Sale 132, drawn 4

At Bairnsdale: Played 107 Bairnsdale 54, Sale 51, drawn 2

Last 10 matches: Bairnsdale 2, Sale 8

Last win at Bairnsdale: Bairnsdale 2014, Sale 2015

Last 5 years at Bairnsdale: Bairnsdale 1, Sale 4

Last three matches

2015 (B) Sale 15.17 (107) d Bairnsdale 12.12 (84)

2015 (S) Sale 11.16 (82) d Bairnsdale 10.13 (73)

2016 (S) Bairnsdale 14.13 (97) d Sale 10.6 (66)

Present winning sequence: Bairnsdale 1

Highest scores: Bairnsdale 27.21 (183) (1994), Sale 30.19 (199) (1996)

Lowest scores: Bairnsdale 1.6 (12) (1914), Sale 1.8 (14) (1903)

Greatest winning margin: Bairnsdale 131 (1994), Sale 176 (2012)

Most goals (match): Bairnsdale 10 I. McLean (1923), D. Preston (1994): Sale 11 M. Ferguson (2012)

Morwell v Drouin

(1933-40 (CGFL), 1960-64, 2005-2016)

All matches: Played 48 Morwell 33, Drouin 14, drawn 1

At Morwell: Played 24 Morwell 19, Drouin 5

Last 10 matches: Morwell 5, Drouin 4, drawn 1

Last win at Morwell: Morwell 2014, Drouin 2015

Last 5 years at Morwell: Morwell 2, Drouin 3

Last three matches

2015 (M) Drouin 15.8 (98) d Morwell 10.14 (74)

2015 (D) Morwell 8.6 (54) d Drouin 5.12 (42)

2016 (M) Morwell 11.9 (75) drew with Drouin 11.9 (75)

Present winning sequence: Drouin 1

Highest scores: Morwell 34.16 (220) (2006), Drouin 18.14 (122) (2011)

Lowest scores: Morwell 4.10 (34) (2010 1st Semi), Drouin 0.1 (1) (2014)

Greatest winning margin: Morwell 187 (2014), Drouin 76 (2011)

Most goals (match): Morwell 16 R. Bawden (1937): Drouin 6 C. Dunne (2010 1st Semi)