Hillmen’s historic win

Landmark: Hill End had a promising start to the 2022 Mid Gippsland season, defeating Mirboo North on their home deck for the first time since 1999. Rovers veteran Robert Fiddelaers, pictured in a tangle with Mirboo North star Liam Nash, was listed among his sides best players. photograph stacey holland



IT may have only been Round 1, but Hill End achieved something pretty special when they had their first win at Mirboo North since 1999.
The two top sides of the 2021 season, both felt as though there was some unfinished business after the abandonment of finals gave neither a chance for a run at a premiership.
2022 is without question seen as an opportunity for both clubs to once again put themselves in a position to achieve the ultimate in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League.
The Tigers at home were always going to be a tough outfit to beat, as they are, on their unique home ground, but also given the visiting Rovers team was still a little off full strength.
The Rovers claimed every inch they could, a five-point quarter time margin extending to an impressive 19-point lead at half-time with the likes of Aaron Fawcett and Ambu Uliando leading the way.
That ‘edge’ the visitors had was built on each quarter with the result being a comfortable but impressive 34-point victory 12.13 (85) to 7.9 (51).
Hill End coach Mike Santo said it was a good start to the season.
“Well it wasn’t a tortuous thrashing like we’ve received since 1999 but it was a hard fought contest, we have a heap of respect for coach Josh Taylor and Mirboo North so we are really pleased to come away with the win,” he said.
“We were able to break them open with quality ball use and we won the contest in the middle, and started to also dominate clearances and lock the ball in our end.
“We look forward to continued improvement and getting some guys back in the next couple of weeks.”
Mirboo North coach Josh Taylor said his team would look to respond in its next game.
“It was a tough, hot game, both sides had some key players out and we went in very short (height wise) we had some real momentum at times and held for a period, but Hill End controlled it for longer periods,” he said.
“I was really impressed with our kids, they had a red hot crack, our senior leaders are just a touch under done and it hurt us in the last, but it’s onward and upwards from here and we’re looking forward to Newborough who got off to a flyer – already it’s a huge game for our season.”
The league promised a quality competitive season and every early indication is that is exactly what we are going to get.

IN the battle of the Demons it was home side Boolarra that made the most of their opportunities and grounded their way to a satisfying 15-point victory 8.9 (57) to 5.12 (42).
Boolarra certainly had some tongues wagging prior to the season starting on the back of some impressive recruiting that included AFL premiership player Brent Guerra and North Gippsland Football-Netball League best-and-fairest Ricky Cochrane just to name a couple of almost a dozen new faces.
MDU on the other hand decided to keep their focus on local juniors with the hope that some could be fast tracked into having a senior impact.
The visiting Demons younger players certainly would have learned a lot from the experience – wasted opportunities, probably the most obvious area of improvement.
MDU coach Peter Harris said it was a good contest.
“The boys battled well for most of the day, with our young kids showing the way, we controlled the footy in the first half but failed to apply scoreboard pressure and Boolarra were able to take some chances in the third and fourth being too strong in the end,” he said.
Boolarra coach Tony Giardina shared similar sentiments.
“It was a tough game, MDU played all over us in the first half but their bad kicking for goal kept us in it, after half-time the boys lifted and fought hard for the win,” he said.
Both of these teams would have their sights set on climbing their way up into finals
contention, and every win therefore is absolutely crucial. For Boolarra they will know exactly where they stand when they meet a quality Hill End outfit the week after Easter, and for MDU, they will get their chance when they clash with Thorpdale.

A STATEMENT wanted to be made and indeed a statement was made by an impressive Newborough side. The Bulldogs cruised to a better than 100-point victory at home 20.20 (140) to 6.3 (39).
New Bulldogs coach Craig Skinner had been working on this week from as far back as July 2021, carefully selecting the players he wanted to be part of a culture at Newborough, a culture he knew had been successful previously at the club.
The visiting Toora team under new coach Matt Ponton was hopeful they might be able to catch the home side off guard in Round 1, but for the Magpies it wasn’t to be.
Skinner said he was delighted with how the first game played out.
“It was tight early in perfect conditions and was going to come down to who could last the longest and have the least injuries, thankfully in the second half it was us. The experience of (Luke) Webber down back and Jibba (Peter) Ainsworth forward were good for us,” he said.
“Happy for a week off before taking on Mirboo North which will be compounded by them coming off a loss, not many sides are going to experience Mirboo North on the rebound so we will spend two weeks getting ready for that.”
It was a consistent, workmanlike performance by Newborough, who extended their lead at every break kicking four, six, five and five goals respectively in each quarter slowly pressing their opposition into submission.
Toora coach Matt Ponton said his team would take some lessons from the defeat.
“We played really good football in spurts, but unfortunately for not long enough,” he said.
“Newborough proved to be the fitter side and ran all over us in the second half, we have lots to work on but all the cobwebs and the realisation has set in for players that we must play for the full 120 minutes … we will improve and be more competitive.”
Improvement is what we can expect, probably from both sides, which all points to a most enjoyable and competitive season.

STONY Creek began their season with an emphatic 38-point win over Thorpdale 16.8 (104) to 10.6 (66) – a victory that was as good as it gets for the Lions.
Winning has been like gold for these two teams in recent years so the chance to open the account in the 2022 season with four premiership points was seen as crucial to both.
The Blues at home had been happy with their preseason and appreciative of the numbers that had made the effort in the weeks and months leading up to this day.
Equally, the Lions, with some new faces, both junior and those more experienced, had given the visitors the belief a win first-up was most certainly possible.
Stony Creek coach Jay Accardi said there was a bit to like.
“It was a great start to our season for our boys at Thorpdale against some good opposition,” he said.
“After a really even first half we were able to pull away, even though to their credit they pushed us to the end, the pleasing thing for both our sides (seniors and reserves) is that it was our first real hit-out of the season as two individual teams and although we took a while to gel once we got going we had some really good passages of play.”
Thorpdale coach Ray Pickering lamented an opportunity missed.
“A very good, tight first half of footy but we cost ourselves a two-three goal lead at half-time with some undisciplined acts,” he said.
“Second-half we couldn’t sustain our structures and fitness allowing Stony to get on top and run over us in the end. Stony have recruited very well and are much improved from 2021 and will scare some good teams this year. We have some positives to take out of the first half going into Round 2.”
There is a long season that awaits both of these teams, but there’s no question that they will be a headache for many opposition teams in 2022.

TARWIN had a terrific start to the season, managing to manufacture an eight-point win away from home against a Yinnar side that prides itself on being hard to beat at any time let alone the first game of the year.
The Sharks almost paid the price for inaccuracy but held on to win 16.13 (109) to 16.5 (101).
The Magpies like most, have set their sights on finals football once again in 2022, but also realise that the expected improvement by many teams in the competition will mean that playing at the pointy end of the season cannot be taken for granted.
Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor said there was an even amount of positives and negatives.
“Our intensity was off early which put us on the back foot for most of the day, to be fair I thought we were lucky to be still in the game at three quarter time as Tarwin was clearly the better side, we rolled the dice and fought it out but came up short unfortunately,” he said.
“I was proud of the fightback, but disappointed with how we started and now we have a big game in a fortnight against Morwell East.”
Tarwin gave new coach Troy Hemming a win on debut, who said it was a promising start to his time in the driver’s seat.
“It was a great start by our full squad, very impressed with our new players coming into our club and our local veterans turning back the clock we showed great fight for four quarters,” he said.
“We trained our game plan all pre-season and the boys stuck to it, Yinnar were a good outfit and kept coming all day and we wish them all the best for the season, but it was a team effort for Tarwin.”
Tarwin will now meet fellow first round victors Stony Creek.

ALTHOUGH there has already been some new rivalries created since the merging of the Alberton league into the MGFNL, the ‘old’ rivalries are still very much alive and they don’t get any more intense than between these two great clubs.
It appeared Foster was going to start their season with a win at three quarter time when the Tigers led by 17 points at home, but Fish Creek staged a sensational surge in the final 30 minutes to steal a win by less than a kick 7.13 (55) to 8.5 (53).
There hadn’t been a lot of news coming out of Foster in the off season, whereas Fish Creek have in fact managed to bring back a couple of homegrown footballers complementing quite a number of juniors who were introduced to a ‘finals like’ atmosphere to start their senior careers.
Foster coach Sam Davies said the result was a bitter pill to swallow.
“Tough loss after leading all day. Just a lack of depth after a couple more late outs probably caught us in the end,” he said.
Kicking for goal was probably the difference, with both sides having opportunities in the first half, but Fish Creek wasted many of those and trailed at the major break by 15 points despite both teams hitting the scoreboard on eight occasions.
In the third quarter, the visitors added another one goal and four behinds while the home side’s accuracy of two goals from two attempts extended their lead to a healthy but not match winning lead.
Fish Creek’s ability to snatch a victory from what seemed defeat is enough to suggest that the Kangaroos are the real deal in 2022.
Winning coach John Danckert was full of praise for his troops.
“Gutsy win Saturday, behind all day until when it mattered. An exciting finish with a kick to decide the match, luckily for us it missed and we scraped through,” he said.
“We realise Foster were missing quite a few players, that said we were too. We will be looking forward to the week off and getting back on the home deck against Toora.”
MORWELL East had the bye.