Yallourn-Yallourn North were challenged but responded as good sides do with a comprehensive victory over Morwell East on Saturday, 17.12 (114) to 10.7 (67).
The early signs were good for the Hawks with their structure and use of ball standing up and their efforts around stoppages made it difficult for the unbeaten Bombers to get any fluid movement.
It was an intriguing contest in so many ways given there was an expectation the Bombers could open the game up at any time.
However, Morwell East earned their 13-point quarter-time lead and it was obvious that the Hawks had come to play.
The quarter-time break was an opportunity for Barrie Burnett to settle his side and prepare them for the four-quarter effort required if they were to continue their winning streak.
“Morwell East came and had the game on their terms for a majority of the match, they wanted it more early on and ran harder,” Burnett said.
By three-quarter-time the Bombers had clawed their way back into the game and there was just one point in it with 30 minutes to play.
The Bombers opened up the game with eight goals in the final term.
“To our boys’ credit, we fought back and got playing our style of footy. It was a good game and hopefully two more of those to come before finals,” Burnett said.
Keenan Hughes and Dean MacDonald kicked five goals apiece.
Trafalgar v Mirboo North
Mirboo North might well have been forgiven if they chose to let another game slip, but to their credit they responded when challenged by Trafalgar, eventually winning 11.6 (72) to 8.8 (56).
Trafalgar got off to the start they planned for and showcased the sort of football that we hadn’t seen since their premiership year of 2018, managing one of their best 30 minutes of the year with better than six goals to lead by 27 points at quarter-time.
The second quarter was more of an arm wrestle with the Tigers finally stemming the home side’s flow to goal.
It wasn’t the prettiest football but it served its purpose for the visitors as they edged just a point closer and started to swing the momentum.
It was going to take a special effort by Mirboo North and they sensed the importance of the occasion, eating into the deficit and getting within 16 points at the last break.
In the final 30 minutes the Tigers finally shook off the Bloods, scoring more than they had in the three quarters prior.
Brayden Wilson managed five goals for the day while Mitchell Wightman was prominent for most of the day.
Importantly, the win almost certainly secured a top-three spot for Mirboo North and, with more first-choice players on their way back, the Tigers can only get better.
“Getting some key players back … helped us a lot with structure and letting other guys play there natural roles,” Tigers coach Josh Taylor said.
“Trafalgar used the ball well and they smashed us early in midfield, but [I’m] really happy with the boys’ efforts and we really gained momentum in the last quarter.”
Boolarra v Newborough
Newborough finally strung a couple of wins together when they took early control of their clash with Boolarra to win 9.14 (68) to 6.10 (46).
The visitors held a 10-point lead at the first break but it was obvious that both sides had come to play.
Accuracy was proving to be a problem for the Bulldogs, their six goals from 13 shots at half-time had them leading by 21 points but it wasn’t enough to shake off the Demons.
It was all about the four premiership points that were on offer and Newborough showed they were desperate for them by maintaining the work effort and moving the ball better to build on their half-time lead and eventually win by 25 points.
“Our goal in the back half of the season was to see improvements in ball use and skill level but most importantly to become mentally tougher [and] be in games longer,” Bulldogs coach Dean Caldow said.
Thorpdale v Yinnar
It may have taken most of the season but Yinnar finally showed what they are capable of when they cruised to their most comfortable victory of the year over Thorpdale, 22.18 (150) to 3.5 (23).
The toughness of the game was highlighted in the first 30 minutes when the Magpies peppered the goals on 14 occasions, scoring just six goals, but the constant attack continued for the entire match with five more goals before half-time.
With the Blues missing their coach Ray Pickering through illness, the task to match it with a top-five side was always going to be tough.
“Although we went to match very much under-manned the boys fought hard against a very strong Yinnar outfit and a big thanks goes to the players that helped fill some gaps we had,” Pickering said.