Leongatha out to avenge Maffra loss

Leongatha will be out to avenge its semi-final loss to Maffra when the two sides go head-to-head in Saturday’s Gippsland League grand final at Moe’s Ted Summerton Reserve.

When the two sides squared off two weeks ago, the Eagles ended the Parrots’ season-long undefeated run 11.11 (77) to 9.12 (66) to secure its spot in the grand final.

Leongatha bounced back on Saturday with a 54-point win over Traralgon in the preliminary final to advance to its second grand final in two years.

Parrots coach Beau Vernon said his team was feeling good following the result.

“I was happy, (Saturday’s effort was) polar opposite of the way we went about it on the weekend to the way we went the week before,” Vernon said.

“We had a good solid hit out on the weekend and I think it’ll hold it us in good stead.”

The semi-final marked just the second time the two sides have done battle this season.

In their round three clash at Leongatha Recreation Reserve, the Parrots inflicted a 61-point defeat on the Eagles. The two sides’ round 12 clash was abandoned due to wet weather.

“We hadn’t seen them since round three and they had a fair few blokes out of their side that day,” Vernon said.

“We watched them the week before (the semi-final) against Traralgon. So we’ve seen them a couple of times now.”

He identified two key contests which spectators should watch out for.

“I think (Maffra’s Sam) Pleming on (Chris) Verboon down their forward line will be a good match up, it’ll be pretty critical for us,” he said.

“And the ruck contest between (Maffra’s Trent) Knobel and (Ben) Lewis will be a good one.”

Despite losing to Traralgon in last year’s grand final, Vernon said his side was not thinking much about the previous result, but conceded the experience could help his side.

“It definitely won’t hurt, but that being said Maffra have got plenty of finals experience in their team,” he said.

“We’ll be better for the run from last year, but we’ll just focus on this year and what we have to do.”

Maffra coach Wayne Butcher said he was excited to be taking a young side into the grand final and would not read too much into the Eagles’ last encounter with the Parrots.

In the semi-final, Maffra set up its win with a six goals to one third quarter.

Leongatha fought back with the four last goals of the game to cut the Eagle’s winning margin to 11 points.

“They’ve been the best side all year by a long way,” Butcher said.

“They had the bye before we played them and… they’re going to be a completely different side in the grand final.

“We are going to have to be at our very best and in most grand finals you have to be at your very best.”

He said he would be looking at those with finals experience to lead the way for his young side.

“I think we’d be looking at our experienced players – the Plemings and the Knobels… those guys who have played in finals before,” Butcher said.

“We’d be looking for those guys to lead the way for the youngsters.”

Vehicle entry to Ted Summerton Reserve is by the South Street entrance only.

Access to South Street is via Wirraway Street only.

On site parking is limited, gates open 7am.