Sparkling spearheads shine on the weekend

On song: Brandon McDonald had a day out for Morwell, kicking nine goals against Drouin. file photograph



FORWARDS rejoiced in Round 8 of the Gippsland League.
A total of five forwards from three different games all returned bags for their sides, in what was a throwback to a bygone era of those inside 50 getting the ball in their hands more often than not.
Morwell’s Brandon McDonald kicked the most for the day with nine, while Brett Eddy nabbed seven for Traralgon in the same game Brad Dessent kicked just as many for Sale. Not to be outdone, Daniel Bedggood managed six for Maffra, as did Jed Lamb for Warragul.
TRARALGON passed a serious litmus test against Sale.
The Maroons broke away in the final quarter at home, winning 14.14 (98) to 12.6 (78).
Spectators were treated to a good old fashioned shootout, as Brett Eddy and Brad Dessent kicked seven each for their respective sides.
Eddy’s haul for the victors backed up his previous round effort of six, and took his tally to a league high 28.
Dessent was equally damaging for the Magpies, and officials will be hoping it kicks him into gear after a somewhat stop-start 2022 campaign.
Barely anything separated the teams early on, although Traralgon’s inaccuracy in front of the big sticks denied them from taking a further lead than 10 points at the main break.
At that stage the Maroons had kicked 6.12 (48) to 6.2 (38). Traralgon was able to straighten up in the third, adding three goals, while Sale matched that effort, to see only eight points the difference with one quarter to play.
A five goal to three last quarter proved to be enough for the Maroons, as they built on the lead they had created as the ball was thrown up to begin the fourth term.
Traralgon kicked much straighter after half-time, nailing 8.2 (50).
Eddy was best on ground for the winners, and received good support from Luke Johnson, Troy Forrest, Tom Schneider, Tye Hourigan and Haydn Hector.
Dessent was in the best for Sale, as was Jack Leslie, Shannen Lange, Mitch Bown, Harry Ronchi and Kane Martin.
The win was arguably the Maroons best for the season, and further solidified their credentials as a side worthy of finishing in the top three.
Traralgon has now beaten top five sides Wonthaggi and Sale in the last three weeks, and holds third position thanks to a percentage of more than 150.
For Sale, the result was not a hammering blow, and is one the Magpies can certainly make up for at home the next time around.
That Round 17 game could well determine who earns a double chance.
IT was Brandon McDonald’s world on Saturday – we were just living in it.
The Morwell power forward sent through nine of the best to see the Tigers to a commanding 16.17 (113) to 8.8 (56) win over Drouin.
While the scoreboard might have suggested otherwise, Morwell had to dig themselves out of a hole early in the piece, as the visitors jumped to a 25-point lead at the first break.
The Tigers would have been wary of the threat the Hawks possessed after they nearly, and probably should have, defeated Moe the previous week, and at quarter time Drouin looked to have generated the start they wanted.
However, then something truly extraordinary happened.
The Tigers kicked eight goals – and McDonald kicked six of them.
The sharp-shooter proved unstoppable in the second quarter, kicking four goals in 10 minutes during red time.
Forwards reading this passage will know the feeling of truly being ‘on’. There can often be no explanation for it, but every now and again a forward will go through a purple patch where they just don’t miss or find that the ball keeps landing in their hands.
For McDonald, this was surely the feeling during the second quarter.
Morwell’s blitz saw them overcome the deficit and take a 21-point lead into the sheds.
With the McDonald show in full swing, the Tigers continued on their way in the third.
Drouin appeared shell-shocked by what had transpired, and did not kick a goal leading into three quarter time.
The Hawks only managed one more goal for the game – McDonald managed three.
He kicked his eighth at the 18-minute mark of the last, and added a ninth a minute later.
That ninth put him into the history books for the most goals in a match by a Morwell player against Drouin.
Somewhat ironically, he topped someone with the same surname but different spelling, bettering the eight kicked by current Yallourn Yallourn North captain Dean MacDonald in 2014, who shared the record with Russell Peachey from 1961.
McDonald took best on ground honours in what could only be described as ‘his day’. Boyd Bailey was busy with 31 touches, as was Dan Musil in ruck with 29 hit outs, along with Tristan Waack who had 35. Nathan Noblett also played well.
Best for Drouin was Kye Quirk, Ryan Maric and Rhys Salter. Harry Wans collected 29 disposals, including 13 in the third quarter.
IF anyone out there knows how to beat Leongatha, there are probably nine coaches in the Gippsland League wanting to hear from you.
The Parrots crushed second-placed Moe by 94 points.
For a match between first and second, the contest looked anything but, as Leongatha won 21.12 (138) to 6.8 (44).
At quarter time the score was 39 to two behinds – halfway through the second quarter it was 60 to two behinds.
Moe managed to get some goals on the board in the third, but by then the game was as good as gone.
As eluded to in last week’s report, Moe’s form line was flattering at best heading into this game, and the Lions were probably ripe for the picking against a team that had been as dominate as Leongatha.
That being said, a near 100-point margin will surely be concerning to Moe coach Declan Keilty, more so for the manner in which it happened rather than the margin itself.
Trent Baldi persisted all day for the Lions and Matt Heywood put in a determined effort. Heywood showed good courage standing under a high ball to take a mark in the last quarter when many others would thought better of it to save themselves for the next week. Brock Smith, Ben Morrow, Jacob Wood and Jacob Balfour also battled on.
Aaron Heppell kicked four in the win to be named best. Justin Pellicano was also prominent and has enjoyed something of a renaissance this season. Steve Forrester, Ned Hanily, Cade Maskell and Tom Marriott rounded out the best players for Leongatha.
Marriott, who had been named one of the top 100 country footballers of the millennium during the week, kicked an insane crumbing goal in the last quarter, snappng the ball from the pocket right along the boundary.
There was however a moment involving Marriott that provided some degree of comfort during the third quarter, when an errant kick saw him put the ball out on the full.
It is refreshing to know even the best get it wrong occasionally.
Disregarding systems and game plans, a few moments during the game provided a good insight into the Parrot’s culture.
Leongatha ruckman Ben Willis could be heard marshalling players into position, even at a time when they were 50 points up. Every goal the Parrot’s kicked was celebrated as if they had just hit the lead. The Leongatha runner almost served no purpose – players rotated with military precision when it was their time to do so.
Even moments that would be generally considered negative were turned into a positive.
A good example of this came when Parrot’s small forward Jack Ginnane tried to kick a checkside goal within congestion during the second quarter. The ball went out on the full, but instead of being chastised for trying to kick a miracle goal and giving away a free kick, those around him said ‘good effort Jack’.
The kick didn’t come off, but Ginnane’s effort to win the ball in the first place and then have the confidence to take a risk was seen as something not to be condemned but to be celebrated as ‘hey, you are having a go at doing something special, you mucked it up, so be it, let’s move on’.
So, are Leongatha really that good?
Yes their seniors are that good and their reserves would be a top three senior side in North Gippy – there, I said it.
MAFFRA stayed in touch with the top five.
The Eagles led from start to finish, defeating Warragul 17.8 (110) to 9.13 (67).
The win was an important one for Maffra’s season, with their ledger now reading 4-4 with one round to play before the mid-season break.
Daniel Bedggood’s half a dozen majors saw him listed in the best, along with other Maffra players carrying a fair bit of senior experience in Dylan Alexander, Kade Renooy and Josh Davis.
Jed Lamb kicked six of Warragul’s nine goals and was best on ground for the Gulls.
WONTHAGGI did what it needed to do against Bairnsdale.
The Power made it a very long trip home for the Redlegs, winning 14.20 (104) to 7.7 (49).
Aiden Lindsay capped off a great day, kicking four goals in his 150th game for Wonthaggi.
Bairnsdale coach Logan Austin was best for the Redlegs.
Needing something to cheer them up, a number of Bairnsdale players were spotted tucking into Schnitz in Traralgon on the way back.