Terrific day for Tigers

Ominous: Keenan Hughes started his 2022 campaign with six goals for Yallourn Yallourn North against Rosedale. file photograph



IF you hoped the commencement of season 2022 in the North Gippsland Football-Netball League might bring with it a return of normality the good folk of the Gormandale Football-Netball Club ensured this was not the case on Saturday.
The league’s perennial whipping boys turned on an inspired performance to chalk up their first win in more than 1300 days.
The Tigers jumped Cowwarr early and never looked back, recording a 17-point win 8.13 (61) to 6.8 (44) to open their season.
Assisted by a pair of fly-in ‘permit’ players in Adam Tipungwuti and Dion Munkara, who kicked half of Gormandale’s majors between them it was beers and cheers all around for the visiting side.
While the remaining games mostly went to script there were some margins that might have a few coaches worried even though it is only early in the season.
ONE such club is Heyfield.
The Kangaroos parted with coach Rick Galea in February and while expectations of a win against last season’s ladder leaders Woodside might not have been realistic it is unlikely too many expected the 83-point drubbing handed to them.
Replacement coach Kodie Woodland was able to call upon 2010 AFL premiership player Leigh Brown, but even his presence couldn’t give the Kangaroos a reliable avenue to goal, as they lost 18.10 (118) to 5.5 (35).
David Waddell and Cameron Whiteoak did as they pleased slamming home a dozen goals between them for the Wildcats.
Coach Michael Duncan, who sat out the game, noted post-match Heyfield was likely undermanned and would be improved by the run.
Duncan declined to highlight any particular players for recognition noting the evenness of his side’s contributions as his highlight of the day.
He was prepared to go as far as give his younger players a wrap, saying they acquitted themselves well at senior level and hinted at the somewhat unique nature of the preseason program they undertook as the potential reason they were able to run the game out so well.
ANOTHER game where the margin said as much as the result was the clash between Churchill and Glengarry.
Plenty of Churchill folk were worried about the fact the Cougars had seven first gamers in their line-up and where without several recognised stars.
Of the seven first gamers at least two were still eligible for the early game in the Under-18s.
Worry they need not however as the home side put any fears of an upset to rest with 22 scoring shots to eight at half-time indicating the home side’s dominance.
One of the young first gamers, Lleyton Hecker, helped himself to three first-half majors on his way to four on debut.
Ably assisted by Ryan ‘Chompers’ Lowrie and Ben Kearns it was all one-way traffic as the Cougars won every quarter, prevailing by 68 points – 19.21 (135) to 10.7 (67).
YALLOURN Yallourn North welcomed Rosedale to town for their season opener.
The home town Jets were unable to call upon captain and season 2021 leading goalkicker Dean MacDonald and with first choice ruckman Campbell Staff out for the season hopes were high for the visiting side.
Fast forward to half-time and the visitors had managed only one major and were it not for appalling accuracy in front of goal the home side would have had a much greater margin than 26 points.
The second-half saw more of the same with YYN maintaining their dominance yet failing to capitalise in front of goal.
Keenan Hughes managed half a dozen for the winners in a best on ground performance while it was singles all round for Rosedale’s three goals in a 8.15 (63) to 3.9 (27) finish.
YYN president Evan Sheekey heaped praise on club stalwart Owen Budge who toiled manfully in the ruck all day while the returning Todd Rowe was also singled out by the president for his efforts.
Sheekey went on to suggest Rosedale would be well served by the imminent return of Brad Scott as he felt they lacked another avenue to goal to support Frazar Brouns.
With an eye to his club’s next match, the big Good Friday clash with Yarram in two weeks’ time, Sheekey was also keen to get any insight he could on their Round 1 win over Traralgon Tyers United in a game where there was almost as much talk about who wasn’t playing as who was with both sides heavily impacted by injury, player movement and COVID.
WHEN it was revealed pregame both Vardys were not taking the field for Yarram it felt like it was advantage TTU.
And so it proved early with young ruckman Ben Fleming providing silver service to Liam Willaton to set up multiple forward forays for the Bombers.
Willaton was getting plenty of it early and Jayden Shae was just as lively for Yarram when he wasn’t setting goals up he was kicking them himself.
The second quarter saw hostilities pick up a notch and went Hayden Willaton placed a sleeper hold on Yarram’s Luke Anedda the umpires had seen enough and sent Willaton for a short spell on the sidelines.
This started a run of eight straight free kicks to the Demons which was only equalled by their run of 11 straight scores.
TTU coach Jamie Aitken had several of his prime movers also take a rest for ill-disciplined acts with Michael Jacobsen and Jye Nielson also spending a few moments in ‘time out’ before getting back into the fray.
In an attempt to negate the Yarram run of play which saw them reach half-time with a 31-point lead Aitken installed Nielson in the ruck to start the second-half and the young skipper set about redeeming himself with an inspired performance.
His work in the ruck set up two goals to Brad Kelleher who finished with four and saw the Bombers back within 15 points at the last change.
Yarram coach Justin Staley had seen enough of the Nielson influence and spent much of the latter part of the game rucking himself.
When he injected Griffin Underwood and Shae into the middle to start the last quarter you knew it was game on.
Even more so when TTU co-captain Mitch Mustoe slammed home the first goal of the last quarter to reduce the margin to single digits for the first time all day.
Sadly, for the home side though it was as close as they were able to get with Kaleb Pearce and Josh Swift sealing the win for the visitors with around five minutes to go.
The final scoreboard reading Yarram 13.14 (92) TTU 11.9 (75).
The last few minutes was spun gold for Supercoach fans with Yarram holding the ball in their defensive area and running down the clock to take out a much-deserved win.
Yarram will take plenty from the win with coach Staley highly likely to be the happiest man in Gippsland given he gets two weeks to find enough senior footballers to fill a side without him in it or to get over his game and prepare for the Good Friday clash with YYN.