Morwell facing series of absolute must-wins

Looming large: James Blaser was one of Moe's best on the weekend. The veteran midfielder heads into the next round on 199 senior goals. Photograph Gippsland League





MORWELL has made life hard for itself.

Although it is only Round 4, the Tigers are now pushing the proverbial uphill to stay in the hunt for finals.

Morwell lost what could be viewed as a virtual elimination final to Warragul, going down 13.3 (81) to 10.11 (71).

The Tigers were slow out of the blocks at home, and trailed 4.1 (25) 0.4 (4) at quarter time.

Warragul came into the match off the back of consecutive 90-point losses, but with their tails up early, it provided an instant confidence booster.

For Morwell, it was the absolute worst thing that could have happened, and as they were to find out – an underdog with the sniff of an upset is a dangerous beast.

The Tigers hit back in the second term, adding five goals of their own to lead by seven points at the main break.

Having registered more than twice as many scoring shots, Morwell would have had reason to feel as though they would run away with the contest.

The Gulls however proved what Morwell could do, they could as well, kicking five goals in the third to take a 10-point lead with 20 minutes to play.

Now it was absolutely do-or-die for Morwell.

Both teams kicked three goals in the final term, meaning the fulltime margin remained the same as the one at the previous break.

Aidan Quigley was industrious for the Tigers, along with Max Linton, Cody Macdonald, Boyd Bailey, Brandon Bailey (in his first game for the season on return from injury) and Cohen Campbell.

Nick Mulqueen kicked three goals for Warragul in a best afield display. Others to play well were James Davidson, Patrick Mulqueen, Liam Sumner, Sean Masterson and Patrick Ireland.

The result leaves Morwell at 1-3 and seventh on the ladder – a less than desirable position for a team looking to replicate its finals qualification from last season.

Granted the season is still in its infancy, and there are often surprises this time of year, there could be more questions than answers coming out of the Tiger’s camp.

With this loss following a total obliteration against Traralgon the week before, first year coach Boyd Bailey may well be sharing similar feelings to former Richmond coach Danny Frawley, who once held an air compressor above his head and proclaimed he was “under the pump”.

Perhaps of most pressing concern for Morwell is how a team that consisted of 15 players at the weekend that played in a final last year, plus quality inclusions such as Brandon Bailey (VFL experience), Quigley (who played in a VFL premiership last season), and prized recruit Adam Braendler, now find themselves in the position they are.


TRARALGON won on the road.

The Maroons made the trip to Drouin, and came away with a 19.18 (132) to 13.10 (88) victory after leading at every change.

Granted it is Autumn, the match was very high-scoring for a game at Drouin, a ground which visiting teams have often found it tough to win at.

Speaking of tough, the Hawks again showed why they will be a tough team to take points off in season 2023.

Although Drouin is still yet to win a game, they have kicked 13, 14 and 14 goals in each of their last three matches.

This makes the Hawks a dangerous proposition for teams to come, especially if they aren’t given enough respect.

The Maroons won’t have to worry about Drouin until Round 10 for now, following their 44-point win.

Midfielder Tom Schneider was best on for the victors, followed by youngster Tom Hamilton back from board-holding duty.

Tye Hourigan continued his strong form, as did Brett Eddy who kicked six goals.

Others to play well for Traralgon were Sam Hallyburton and Connor Ambler.

Tom Evans, Clayton Kingi, Xavier Kinder, Harry Wans, Seb Amoroso and Will Papley did a good job for Drouin.


ARE we seeing the greatest Gippsland football team of all time right before our eyes?
Leongatha made an absolute mockery of the Grand Final rematch against Sale, defeating the Magpies by 132 points.

Yes, 132 points. The final score was 27.13 (175) to 6.7 (43).

Leongatha showed off in front of their home crowd, saving the best for last with 10 goals in the final term.

By the end of the game, they had set three new league records.

The Parrots’ final score beat their previous best against Sale, which had stood since 1979.

The winning margin also bettered the 121-point flogging handed to the Magpies in 2016; and youngster Jenson Garnham, who finished with 11 goals, broke the previous best of nine set by Glen Thorson in 1988.

Absolute carnage.

A high-scoring opening term saw eight goals kicked between the two teams. As the game wore on however, only one team ended up doing the scoring.

It is not every day you kick eight goals and have to play second fiddle, but that is exactly what happened to Parrot forward Jack Ginnane.

Having kicked 11 the previous week, Ginnane has certainly come back with a bang following his much publicised eight-week suspension.

Leongatha added 11 goals to two either side of halftime, as players such as Aaron Heppell, Cade Maskell, Luke Bowman and Tom Marriott ran riot.

Shannen Lange, Jack McLaren, Adam Wallace, Liam Place, Hudson Holmes and Lachie Ronchi battled manfully for the visitors, but found the Parrots harder to face than off spinners on Stick Cricket .

While Sale only had 11 of their Grand Final players available, there can be no sugar coating a loss of this proportion.

The manner in which Leongatha destroyed them sent a serious statement to the rest of the competition, and put everyone on notice in the process.

By all reports, the Parrots played at their absolute peak, with some present at Leongatha Recreation Reserve quipping it was the best football they have seen from a country team.

Leongatha’s winning streak now sits at 32. If they win every game from now until the end of the home and away season, they will break the league record of 45 held by Maffra between 2003 and 2005.

Granted it is very difficult to compare eras, but bearing in mind Maffra’s run coincided with a time when there was only seven teams in the competition, it could mean Leongatha are now justifiably in the conversation of greatest ever team.

That Sale making the granny prediction isn’t looking too good at the moment.


WONTHAGGI got back on the winners list.

The Power put an indifferent fortnight behind them, defeating Maffra in comprehensive fashion 15.18 (108) to 4.4 (28).

Making the trip over the hill, Wonthaggi entered the match with consecutive losses under their belt, but left with victory and a stabilising 2-2 record.

The visitors did not let their opponents in at any stage, keeping them to just one goal until three quarter time.

Coach Jarryd Blair was best for the winners, and received good support from Shannon Bray, Tom Davey, Jakeb Thomas, Troy Harley and Tim Knowles.

Best for Maffra were Danny Butcher, Alex Carr, Zach Felsbourg, Brayden Monk, Daniel Bedggood and James Read.


MOE doubled their opponent’s score.

The Lions returned to Ted Summerton Reserve for the first time in three weeks, and defeated Bairnsdale 14.16 (100) to 7.8 (50).

Moe overcame an indifferent start, and in a game that never reached any great heights, had the game pretty well under control by halftime.

The home side added six goals to two behinds in the second term, to lead by 33 points at the main break.

A further five goals to one in the third blew the margin out to 58 points at three quarter time.

Frustration was evident for Bairnsdale, especially when playing-coach Logan Austin gave away a free kick for umpire dissent after asking “how is that not chopping the arms?” following a kick-in that led to a Moe goal to veteran Tom Long.

Long ended up being one of 11 goal kickers for the Lions, which included James Blaser, who heads into this week sitting on 199 senior goals.

Blaser was among the best players, as was new recruit Tyler Pratt, Brock Smith, Ben Morrow, Scott van Dyk, and coach Declan Keilty.

Bairnsdale was given an old-fashioned rev up at three quarter time, and told to “show a bit of spirit” in the last.

The Redlegs managed to do this to an extent, outscoring Moe four goals to two, however by about halfway through the last quarter, the intensity had dropped right off and both sides looked content to just run the game out.

Ethan East was best on ground for the visitors, and received good support from Will Mitchell, Ricky Tatnell, Kieran Vickery, Tate Clay and Link McKenna.

With Bairnsdale accustomed to the wide open expanses of their home ground, they looked to go at an ultra-fast tempo for most of the game at Ted Summerton Reserve.

While their efforts to attack were commendable, it meant they were very susceptible to getting scored against, especially against a quality Moe defence that only let in one goal either side of halftime.

Moe captain Jacob Wood brought up the ton for the Lions, following a neat passage of play that saw him receive a pass from Long at centre half forward, before playing on, kicking truly, and pointing to the famous Can Bar.

Wood was involved in another notable, yet unfortunate, passage of play earlier in the day, clashing heads with teammate Riley Baldi, who will now have to sit this week out due to concussion protocol.

The Lions make the journey to Sale this Saturday.

To say Sale Oval hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Moe would be a severe understatement – the Lions haven’t won there since 2002.

When looking at Moe’s hoodoo at Sale Oval, the only word that comes to mind is bizarre. In 18 attempts since the last victory, you think you would win at least one.

Regardless, and without trying to say too much, with Sale coming off a 130-point loss, this week looks to be the best opportunity Moe has to break any such hoodoo.

The trip also presents an opportunity for the Lions to exorcise some demons from last season’s trip to Sale Oval.

Those who played for Moe on that fateful day will surely not be lacking in motivation after what happened – Sale players were literally laughing at them.