Moe wins first rumble in the jungle

Leading by example: Newly elected Moe vice captain Harri Sim was among the best players in the Lions 36-point win over Morwell.Photographs Gippsland League





IT already feels different at Moe.

The Lions held off a determined Morwell to win 12.14 (86) to 7.8 (50) in the opening round of the Gippsland League.

Taking to Ted Summerton Reserve, the home side got away to a promising start, and had eight scoring shots to none in the first quarter.

The Tigers worked their way back into the contest from there, and trailed by 17 points at the main break.

Back-to-back goals just before halftime gave Morwell some momentum, but Moe responded with four goals to two in the third.

Of those four, two came deep into red time, which effectively took the sting out of the contest.

With a 31-point lead at three quarter time, advantage was with the Lions.

A goal to Morwell playing-coach Boyd Bailey in the first 90 seconds cut the margin back, but that proved to be the only jittery moment as far as Moe was concerned.

The Lions were able to take their lead to 40 points at the 15 minute mark, from which time the game petered out.

Understandably, given it was the first game, both sides were a bit rusty, and onlookers weren’t treated to an overly skilful display.

The crowd did get some entertainment however; flaring tempers leading to spot fires galore in the last quarter.

For a large chunk of the game, action took place between the arcs, with kick-to-kick ensuing between the two sides.

When things did open up however, there was a number of highlights.

Scott Van Dyk was voted best afield for Moe, and kicked a very neat goal after tracking on down from half back.

Returning Lion forward Kristian Jaksch finished with five goals, the best of which was a set shot snap from deep in the pocket near the scoreboard from some distance.

At times, the class of Jaksch stood out, and Lion supporters will no doubt be pleased to see him back after a season off.

They would have also been pleased to see veteran Tom Long playing.

The 35-year-old only played three games last year before suffering another setback in what has been an injury-plagued career across more than 200 games.

A bicep tear threatened to be the final straw, but he was back out there Saturday, kicking an important goal in the third quarter when the game was up for grabs.

Fellow Moe veterans Ben Morrow and Jacob Wood featured prominently, as did the next generation of Grady Cocksedge and Harri Sim.

Morrow had vice-like hands at times, taking some strong contested marks. Speaking of vice, newly-elected vice captain Sim led from the front, and a moment in the third term perhaps showed the biggest difference between Moe now compared to 12 months ago.

This came when Sim was quite vocal with teammate Tyson Biffin after the latter had trailed his opponent, allowing for an easy hit-up.

Biffin to his credit appeared to acknowledge his defensive effort wasn’t up to standard in that instance, and aimed to do better next time.

Given the near 10-year age difference between the two players, the mark of a maturing team shone through as the advice was taken constructively rather than personally.

For Morwell, they were well served by Sam Walsh, Campbell Blewett and Brandon McDonald, whose four goals meant they

remained a fighting chance for the most part.

Debutant coach Bailey did his best in a losing cause, and will no doubt be better for the experience having now coached a senior day and not just match from start to finish.

Saturday completed something of a full circle for the left footer, going from Morwell senior premiership player 10 years ago to now being the senior coach.

From a playing perspective, Bailey exercised good football smarts, particularly on one occasion during the third quarter when he received the ball inside 50, only to immediately be presented with frontal pressure. Having already committed to the kick, he was able to intentionally checkside the ball the distance of a handball to a free player on his left.

From a coaching perspective, perhaps the first thing Morwell will want to review is how they allowed Moe to score two goals in the last five minutes of the third term. Had they not dropped those goals, all of a sudden the margin would have been 19 points instead of 31 at three quarter time.

That being said, as Round 1 is usually built up to be more important than it really is, there might not be too much cause for concern in the Morwell camp.

They only lost by 36 points after all – a margin that can be easily made up.

New Morwell recruit Adam Braendler played well in his first game in the yellow and black.

Having joined the club from Melbourne’s elite Northern Football League, Braendler looks a serious acquisition for the Tigers.

The key position player covered the ground with ease, and despite an awkward-looking

kicking style, gave the Tigers some good opportunities moving the ball forward of centre.

Tristen Waack also put in a commendable performance. Waack, who is playing at Box Hill, was available for his home club thanks to a break in the VFL schedule.

There is some talk of Waack being a possibility for the AFL midseason draft.

Given his age (20), size (188cm) and now with VFL exposure, he could be every chance of attracting some interest.

Poise: Morwell defender Max Linton prepares to dish one off, under pressure from Moe debutant Luke Mulqueen.