By Liam Durkin and Zac Standish
With regional sport on an extended break, the football loving public has been deprived of some potentially cracking matches across Gippsland.
Here, the Four Quarters team opens up the crystal ball to have a look at what might have transpired in recent weeks.
For this exercise we have chosen one match featuring teams from The Express readership we believe would have been worthy of ‘match of the round’ billing.
1. Gippsland League Round 8
Moe (second) vs Wonthaggi (first)
TWO towns, both alike in dignity, at Ted Summerton where we lay
our scene …
The stage was set for a performance of Shakespearean quality as potentially the only two
undefeated teams in the Gippsland League went toe-to-toe.
We say potentially because the round beforehand was also abandoned, with Moe playing
Traralgon and Wonthaggi hosting Sale.
If the Lions and Power had of won those games they would have gone into Round 8 with outright top spot on the line.
Barring a draw, which wouldn’t have been out of the question, the winner would have closed the round with 32 points next to their name.
In previewing this game, only a percentage difference of 10.28 had the Power on top of the ladder from the Lions. Wonthaggi could perhaps be edged marginally ahead in tale-of-the-tape stakes given it had knocked off Leongatha at home.
The Power’s blistering pace has been a hallmark so far this season under Jarryd Blair, with
any number of small men capable of streaming the ball forward of centre.
Wonthaggi has class on every line, including midfielder Aiden Lindsay, key forward Troy Harley
and criminally underrated defender Shannon Bray.
Moe key position player Declan Keilty has been in superb touch, as has defender Scott Van Dyk, who has collected two best-on-grounds in the last three games.
Tipping a winner for this game would have proven difficult, however, given it is called effort-
based-system for a reason, whoever had that in order would have given themselves the best chance.
While the lockdown was a bitter pill to swallow for all concerned, it was perhaps more so for some players, including Lions midfielder Lucas Fry. One has to spare a thought for Fry, who appeared a certainty to come into the seniors after banging down the door so hard in the reserves to the point where it had no hinges left on it.
The timeline from this match would have set up huge back-to-back showdowns in weeks to
come, which could have convinced Gippsland League followers either Moe or Wonthaggi are in fact the real deal in 2021.
In the eyes of many, Leongatha is still the team to beat. Moe are scheduled to play them Round 10, while Wonthaggi has them on the return in Round 11.
Preview headline: Power aiming to run through the jungle.
Tip: The Can Bar to inspire Moe to victory.
2. Mid Gippsland Round 9
Yinnar (sixth) vs Fish Creek (fourth)
WHILE it might look a bit strange claiming a match between sixth and fourth would have been game of the round in Mid Gippsland, the result that followed could have given people a clearer understanding of their quality.
A Yinnar win might have solidified the Magpies position in the top half of the ladder, while victory to the travelling Kangaroos could have had it taking a top-two spot.
Fish Creek has been quietly going about its business this season, winning some games by big
margins and proving it can match teams it may or may not play come finals.
Of the two losses it has had, one has been by eight points against third placed Mirboo North, while the other was against second placed Foster by just 14 points.
Fish Creek also creamed fellow top six competitor Morwell East by 61 points earlier this year.
The Kangaroos, who an opposition coach has labelled “the best side I’ve seen in 10 years”, are still yet to play the undefeated Hill End, and loom as a team that could hand the Hillmen their first loss.
Conversely, Yinnar has been better than its ladder position would indicate, as it has lost two
games against top three teams by less than three points – one of which was after the siren.
With this in mind, the Magpies can count themselves legitimately stiff on at least one occasion, and should feel as though their best football stacks up to anyone it plays against. Had Yinnar won this match against Fish Creek it would have carried a huge amount of confidence heading into Hill End the following week.
Preview headline: Test in the nest for Magpies.
Tip: Would have been very close. We’ll say Yinnar because it was at home.
3. North Gippsland Round 9
Glengarry (ninth) vs Gormandale (11th)
FORGIVE the sentiment and apologies to all potential top-five clashes that haven’t seen the light of day in the last few weeks of North Gippsland football, but this Round 9 match between Glengarry and Gormandale was probably one the Tigers would have gone into
thinking rather than hoping they could win.
After a few testing weeks pre-lockdown, Gormandale’s sights would have been set on getting the four points in this game, which no doubt would have led to celebrations befitting of matches usually seen in September.
The Tigers would be well within their rights to hold such celebrations given they have not won a game since August 2018.
Without wanting to predict too much, should Gormandale have defeated Glengarry it would have set up another winnable match with Cowwarr the week later.
The significance of consecutive wins for Gormandale could surely not be understated, nor could the confidence it would have given the group. On the other side of the coin it would have been an equal opportunity for the Magpies to toast victory.
While one win might not mean much in the long run, for a few days at least it would have
had players walking into work on a Monday with a spring in their step.
As all teams are a work-in-progress, it is a reality that not all can play for finals, however all can play for victories that help them believe in the hard work they have done.
Round 8 of the NGFNL had two tight tussles on the cards as a resurgent Rosedale (sixth) met a defiant Churchill (third) and fifth placed Heyfield took on Yarram, a team ranked one position ahead of them.
Preview headline: Giddy up Gormy as first win beckons.
Tip: We’ve already had Thorpdale break the drought, surely this was the week another team ending in Dale got on the board.
4. Ellinbank and District Round 8
Ellinbank (first) vs Trafalgar (second)
IF you were to say to the general punter from the Ellinbank and District Football League ‘Traf are going well in the new league’, there is a good chance the response would be ‘yes, but they haven’t played Ellinbank or Longwarry yet.’
The Bloods have begun their new life in the EDFL with an unblemished 6-0 win-loss record,
and eyes would have been fixed to see how the Bloods fared in their Round 8 match with Ellinbank – the only other undefeated team in the competition.
The Eagles boast an incredibly strong lineup featuring former Gippsland League leading goal
kicker Chris Dunne, and Mid Gippsland best and fairest winner Daniel Risol, as well as Nate
Paredes who is expected to play a few games this season.
Paredes was runner-up in the 2016 Gippsland League best and fairest and has a Northern
Territory Football League Player of the Year award to his name.
If Parades was available for this match it would no doubt have made some difference, however, it is highly unlikely he would have been the sole key to Ellinbank’s chances.
Some names that might be familiar to Latrobe Valley readers are also playing at Ellinbank
this season in Liam Carolan and Anthony Battista.
Trafalgar has built a very physical team this season, with players the likes of Karl Mutke and Chris McIntosh to go with seasoned campaigners such as Tyson Leys and Jamie Hines.
The Bloods also have arguably the best player in the competition in Dylan Farrell, who adds even more height to the starting 21.
A gutsy win over third placed Poowong before the lockdown strengthened Trafalgar’s credentials, while Ellinbank’s win over reigning premier Longwarry did the same.
The winner of this match would have enjoyed the giddy heights that come with being on top of the ladder, looking down on all contemporaries.
Away from the EDFL here is a question to ponder: would Hill End be in premiership conversation if Trafalgar and Yallourn Yallourn North was still in Mid Gippsland?
Preview headline: Ellinbank aiming to do the Eagle Rock.
Tip: Trafalgar, but only if Dunne had less than four score involvements.