By ROB POPPLESTONE
YINNAR v MORWELL EAST
MORWELL East finally get the opportunity to showcase their team in Round 2 of Mid Gippsland football.
The Hawks had impressive recruiting and preseason block of work starting many months ago in 2021.
Hawks coach Devon Soutar has had an extra fortnight to prepare his team after the unfortunate scheduling of a Round 1 bye followed by the Easter break.
“We must be prepared to bring our best, the competition looks too tight for even the smallest of lapses, at this point of the year everyone is feeling each other out, but we know Yinnar well as they do us, so we’re expecting another epic encounter,” he said.
There is no question even at this stage that as many as eight or even nine sides might be vying for six positions available come finals time, so for Yinnar especially, coming off their first round loss, the bar has been lifted.
Magpies coach Daniel Taylor said his side was ready.
“I was proud of our fight back a fortnight ago, but we have a big game now against the East, by all reports they have recruited well and have had a solid preseason so we will have to be at our best to get the result,” he said.
Morwell East has indeed recruited well, securing a handful of very talented players, probably none more so than ruckman Isaac Abas from Morwell in the Gippsland League.
His presence is sure to cause problems for every big man in the MGFNL competition, but it will take more than one man to defeat Yinnar, so the Hawks will, as Soutar suggests “be prepared to bring their best”.
This clash, again, is one of many that will be exciting to watch.
HILL END v BOOLARRA
WINNING form is almost always good form, but just how that form stacks up will be tested to the fullest this weekend when Boolarra face one of the toughest trips – Hill End on their home turf.
Make no mistake Boolarra did their job well a fortnight ago when they accounted for MDU, reasonably comfortably, but the bar has been lifted this week, taking on the preseason premiership favourite after they also started their season in impressive fashion against a more highly-respected opponent in Mirboo North.
Boolarra coach Tony Giardina said he was well aware of the quality of opposition.
“It’s going to be a tough game against the benchmark in Hill End up there, but hopefully the boys are up for the challenge,” he said.
It is only early days and both sides are sure to improve significantly as Hill End coach Mike Santo pointed to.
“(I’m) looking forward to continued improvement and getting some more guys back in the coming weeks,” he said.
Among several goals the Demons have for 2022 is to push some of the best sides in the competition and there is little doubt the Rovers are exactly that, so Boolarra will be under no illusions as to just where they sit after this weekend.
NEWBOROUGH v MIRBOO NORTH
NEWBOROUGH had done a power of work many months prior to the start of the season, and that was throughout the whole club both on the field and off.
The plan was to build the Bulldogs back to the powerhouse they once were.
If their Round 1 performance is any indication of just what improvements have been made it was right there on the scoreboard with a super impressive 101-point win over Toora.
Now that being said, it isn’t expected that the Power are any Mirboo North, not yet at least, so the Tigers will be a completely different proposition even on the Bulldogs home deck.
Craig Skinner said the challenge for his Newborough team would be to not rest on their laurels after one game.
“We were 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 the Tigers on the rebound so we will spend two weeks getting ready for that,” he said after the Toora win.
That preparation will be tested this Saturday, against a team aware and respectful of their opponent and their 2022 improvements.
Mirboo North coach Josh Taylor said the game had the makings of a good contest.
“Looking forward to playing Newborough, who have got away to a flyer to start their year, it is a huge game for our season,” he said.
Round 2 and it’s a huge game for your season, such is the competitiveness of this year’s MGFNL competition.
THORPDALE v MDU
TWO sides coming off first round defeats is always a recipe for a lift in intensity, desperation and commitment to what it takes to secure premiership points.
Blues coach Ray Pickering isn’t hitting the panic button, in fact he remains quite bullish.
“We had some undisciplined acts last game (against Stony Creek) but we have some positives to take out of the first half also that we can take into MDU,” he said.
The Demons find themselves on the road again after their defeat at the hands of Boolarra a fortnight ago, but they too remain positive about their chances this weekend.
MDU coach Peter Harris said his team would be eager to sing the song.
“We controlled a lot of the footy in the first half of Round 1 – our Round 2 clash is a big game for the boys now who are keen to bounce back strong,” he said.
Both the Blues and Demons have put together pleasing preseasons but the reward for effort is yet to be achieved for either. For the winner this week, a chance on which to progress even further, for the loser, a 0-2 start and the hill to be climbed just gets that little higher. Sometimes this game is played above the head and the mindset can be greatly improved after a win.
Picking who that winner might be however is very, very difficult.
FISH CREEK v TOORA
YOU wouldn’t think Fish Creek would like to be in anywhere near the same position they found themselves in Round 1, when at three quarter time they faced a three goal deficit against a reputable opponent in fierce rival Foster.
On that occasion the Kangaroos somehow
managed to manufacture an impressive victory that was also an impressive platform from which to build their season.
Their opposition in Round 2 will still be hurting, maybe even embarrassed over their bigger than 100-point defeat at the hands of Newborough.
Toora coach Matt Ponton said he was after a response.
“We are looking to improve on what we put out there against the Bulldogs with work rate and competitive spirit,” he said.
That is all you can ask for a team, to be honest and competitive and to learn from losses, but even with all of that you get the feeling that Fish Creek might still have too much firepower.
STONY CREEK v TARWIN
BOTH of these two teams were buzzing after their respective wins in Round 1.
Stony Creek ran away in the second half of their game against Thorpdale, while Tarwin was tough under pressure against a Yinnar side that very rarely loses at home.
The Lions will see this as a winnable game and the chance to make it two in a row.
Equally, Tarwin have their sights set on being a part of the finals action much later in the year, so a stumble at this early stage will damage those plans no end.
Tarwin coach Troy Hemming welcomed the contest.
“We have the Lions on their home ground who I see had a good win against Thorpdale, we are really looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
That challenge one suspects will be there for a quarter, maybe even two before the visitors flex their muscle and start to apply the pressure that will have the home side on the back foot before three quarter time.
Stony Creek coach Jay Accardi acknowledged the game would be a “tough assignment”.
Tough, but far from impossible, you only need to follow the AFL to know that upsets are happening on a weekly basis. Whether the Lions side can conjure up one of these this week is unlikely however.
FOSTER has the bye.